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British-Indian professor knighted in New Year's honours

By Aditi Khanna
December 31, 2016 09:27 IST
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Shankar Balasubramanian (pictured), an Indian-origin British professor of chemistry, has received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the field of science and medicine.

Balasubramanian, 50, Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Cambridge University, has been recognised for his work as a co-inventor of Next Generation DNA sequencing, described as the most transformational advance in biology and medicine for decades.

“Solexa sequencing, as it is now known, allows an individual genome to be sequenced in a day or two at a cost of less than 1,000 pounds; previously, sequencing the human genome took years of work and cost billions. His work has spawned an entirely new discipline of Bioinformatics,” his citation reads.

“More recently, he has made major contributions to understanding the role of DNA-quadruplexes in cancer and invented a method for the sequencing of epigenetic modifications,” his citation reads.

Olympic stars Andy Murray, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill are among others honoured in the 2017 New Year Honours list, which also includes big names from the entertainment world, including actors Mark Rylance and Patricia Routledge.

Rio 2016 men’s tennis champion Murray and double gold-winning athlete Farah receive Knighthoods, while heptathlete Ennis-Hill becomes a Dame.

A host of other Indian-origin professionals are also included in the honours list, including Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire for Hardip Singh Begol of the UK’s Department for Education for services to education; Kamaldeep Singh Bhui, Professor of cultural psychiatry and epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London for services to mental health research and care.

Neena Gill, Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands for parliamentary and political service, Ravindra Pragji Govindia of Wandsworth Borough Council forservices to local government and the community in Wandsworth, London and Anita Thapar from the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences at Cardiff University for services to child and adolescent psychiatry are also included
in the list.

Indian-origin Officers of the Order of the British Empire include Poonam Gupta, Chief Executive Officer of PG Paper Company Ltd, for services to Business and charity; Dr Brinder Singh Mahon, Chief Executive Officer of Nishkam School Trust, for services to education; Yorkshire prison officer Avtar Singh Purewal for services to prisoners; and Jasvir Singh, founding chair of City Sikhs, for voluntary service to faith communities and social cohesion.

Among this year’s Members of the Order of the British Empire are Surjit Singh Chowdhary, vice-president, Central Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Glasgow, for services to the Sikh community and charity; Parkash Singh Dhami, president of Telford Gurdwara, for services to charity and community Cohesion.

Sunita Golvala for services to South Asian Dance in the UK; Sarbjit Kaur, Detective Sergeant, Merseyside Police, for services to policing; Massa Singh Nandra for services to charity and the community in south London; Priyesh Patel, managing director, Cofresh Snack Foods, for services to the economy in Leicestershire and exports were also included in the list.

Vanita Patel, anti-slavery ambassador, worldwide eradication of slavery, for charitable services to human rights; Mukesh Shah for charitable and community service in the UK and abroad; Sangeeta Rajesh Shingadia for charitable service in the UK and India; Tony Singh for services to the food and drink industry and charity; Professor Sital Singh Sitara for services to Sikh heritage and culture were among others included in the list.

In total 1,197 people have received an award with 74 per cent of the recipients people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity.

There are 603 successful women candidates in the list, representing just over 50 per cent of the total and 9.3 per cent of the successful candidates come from a black and minority ethnic background, the greatest ever number of BAME recipients in an honours list.

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Aditi Khanna
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