Dr. DasSarma received the B.S. degree in Chemistry with Honors from Indiana University, Bloomington and PhD. degree in Biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, where he was student of Profs. H. Gobind Khorana, Nobel Laureate, and Uttam L. RajBhandary. His postdoctoral training was in the Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston with Dr. Howard M. Goodman.
Dr. DasSarma began his independent research career at the age of 28 as a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology and Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2001, after 15 years, he moved his laboratory to the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Baltimore and joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2010.
Dr. DasSarma's research interests include broadly the fields of microbiology, biochemistry, genomics, and biotechnology of Archaea. His laboratory studies fundamental processes, such as DNA replication and repair, transcription, and gene regulation, in order to understand the remarkable ability of microorganisms to survive in a wide range of habitats, from the human microbiome to novel extreme environments. His contributions include leading the genome sequencing project of one of the first Archaea, an extreme halophile, Halobacterium sp. NRC-1, and the development of this microbe as one of the popular model systems in the third Domain of life. His laboratory pioneered both transcriptomic and reverse genetic technology for analysis of gene functions in extreme halophiles, and was one of the first to study their transposable elements, purple membrane and gas vesicle genes, origins of replication and transcription factors. Recently, his laboratory developed Halobacterium as microbial cell factories for production of valuable proteins, including highly immunogenic protein nanoparticles for antigen display and biomedical applications. His research interests also include the role of halophiles in the environment, from Baltimore to Antarctica to the stratosphere and space, where these organisms are leading candidates in the field of astrobiology. An interesting proposal from the lab suggested that such microorganisms may have dominated the early "purple earth".