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Darshan Ranganathan was a researcher in organic chemistry. She was born Darshan Markan to Shanti Swarup and Vidyawati Markan in Delhi where she spent her youth. She graduated in chemistry and joined Miranda House as a lecturer, eventually becoming Head of the Department of Chemistry. She got her Ph.D. from Delhi University under Professor T.R. Seshadri in 1967. She did postgraduate work in the US under Professor D.H.R. Barton, having won a Senior Research Scholarship of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. She returned to India in 1969, married Subramania Ranganathan the following year and began independent research at IIT Kanpur where her husband was a faculty member. For various reasons she was prevented from joining the faculty; however, she funded her research with a series of independent fellowships. She did pioneering work in protein folding. With her husband she edited Current Highlights in Organic Chemistry. In 1993 she accepted a post at the Regional Research Laboratory, Trivandrum, and in 1998 became the director of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad. She died of breast cancer at the age of sixty.

She was a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. She also won the A.V. Rama Rao Foundation Award, the Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Visiting Fellowship, Third World Academy of Sciences Award in Chemistry in 1999 for her work in bio-organic chemistry, and the Sukh Dev Endowment Lectureship.
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