Sundaresan Prabhakar

Sundaresan Prabhakar is a synthetic organic chemist. He was born in 1937 in Madras (Chennai) (Tamil Nadu, India), where he was educated. He obtained his PhD under the supervision of Professor T. R. Govindachari in 1963 in Presidency College - University of Madras with the thesis “Studies on Heterocyclic Nitrogen Compounds”. From 1964-1968 he joined Professor S. W. Pelletier group in the Organic Chemistry Department of the University of Georgia (Athens, USA) as a Research Associate, working in diterpene chemistry. On his return to India he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at Presidency College - Madras University, and worked for a short while in alkaloid synthesis. He then moved to the Chemistry Department of Imperial College London as an Academic Visitor (1969–1973), were he worked with Professor D. H. R. Barton (The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1969). The work focused in the study of α,ω-rearrangements. In this period he met a Portuguese scientist, Ana M. Lobo, whom he later married. Arriving in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1973, he worked briefly in Gulbenkian Science Institute Laboratories at Oeiras, joining, shortly after the 1974 Portuguese Revolution, the staff of the then recently created New University of Lisbon (UNL). There he founded with his wife, the Lobo-Prabhakar research group and stayed for the remaining of his scientific career. He was appointed full professor in the Chemistry Department of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology (FCT-UNL) in 1979, were he taught Advanced Organic Chemistry and Organic Synthesis. He was a pioneer in introducing in Portugal the study of organic synthesis using Corey’s retrosynthetic analysis. Co-author of more than one hundred publications and several patents, his scientific interests focused in the synthesis of pharmacologically active compounds, and in the development of new reagents and synthetic methodologies involving rearrangements, radical chemistry, asymmetric synthesis and catalysis. His group also made important contributions in the study of reaction intermediates. During his academic career he was supervisor and co-supervisor of 28 PhD theses. In 2006 he was awarded the “Estimulo à Ciência” prize (Portuguese Government - MCTES) for his contribution to excellence in R&D. Despite his retirement in 2007, Professor Prabhakar is still involved in several research projects and giving his valuable contribution to synthetic organic chemistry challenges with energy and passion. Captain of a junior cricket team in his early days, he remains an enthusiastic cricket fan. His day always starts with a go at the crosswords of a major Indian newspaper.