№ 088/2014 from Mar 18, 2014
The microbiologist Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain, who is closely associated with Freie Universität, was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in a ceremony in the German Embassy in New Delhi. The award was presented by Michael Steiner, the German Ambassador to India. Seyed Hasnain was selected for this special honor in recognition of his achievements in strengthening German-Indian scientific relations.
Seyed Ejtesham Hasnain, born in 1954 in Gaya, India, studied microbiology at Jawaharla Nehru University in New Delhi and later worked at Delhi University, before accepting a research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute at the University of Alberta, Canada. Later, after several years at Texas A&M University, he returned to India in 1987 to work at the National Institute of Immunology (NII). In 2005 Hasnain became the vice chancellor (president) of the University of Hyderabad. He was instrumental in the establishment of the joint International Research Training Group "Functional Molecular Infection Epidemiology" operated by Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Hyderabad. As part of this bilateral research training group, research on the emergence of infectious diseases as a function of genetic factors is conducted at the Department of Veterinary Medicine in Berlin under the direction of Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lothar H. Wieler, the managing director of the Institute of Microbiology and Epizootics, and at the University of Hyderabad. Hasnain and his colleagues in India recently succeeded in sequencing the genome from a non-pathogenic mycobacterium, making it possible to produce an immunization against leprosy. Experts consider this to be a significant step toward eradicating the disease. Hasnain's research focuses on mechanisms of retroviruses, gene transcription, and apoptosis as well as the functional biology, molecular epidemiology, and evolutionary genetics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain is also the recipient of a Padma Shri Award in India and a Humboldt Research Award. In 2009 he spent several months doing research at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin and at the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology at the University of Würzburg. He was the first Indian to be admitted to the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle.