|Born||13 December 1940|
|Alma mater||Lucknow University|
|Known for||Research and Administration in Biotechnology|
|Spouse(s)||Vinod Prakash Sharma|
|Fields||Biotechnology, plant science|
|Patrons||Government of India, The Puri Foundation for Education in India|
Manju Sharma (born 13 December 1940) is an Indian biotechnologist and administrator of several scientific research and policy-making bodies in India. She was most recently the president and executive director at the Indian Institute of Advanced Research in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. She earlier served as the secretary, Department of Biotechnology, in the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2007.
Some credit Sharma with pioneering biotechnology research in India. She played a significant role in establishing several institutions in the country, including the National Institute of Immunology, the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, the Biomass Research Centres at Lucknow and Madurai, the Plant Molecular Biology Unit in University of Delhi and the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics.
Sharma is the granddaughter of Madan Mohan Malaviya, an educationist and politician. She is married to Vinod Prakash Sharma, a malariologist and entomologist. Their son, Amit Sharma, specializes in protein crystallography.
Sharma graduated from Lucknow University, winning the first rank and receiving the Birbal Sahni Memorial Gold Medal. She earned her Ph.D. at Lucknow University in 1961 and then worked at Purdue University as a post-doctoral researcher. Collaborating with A. Carl Leopold and Richard Hall, her research on enhancing latex production through the use of ethereal oil found commercial application in Malaysian rubber plantations.
Sharma's research on plant idioblasts led to her becoming a visiting scientist at the Institute of Plant Anatomy and Cytology, University of Copenhagen. She then joined the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, where in researching woody plants, she established a correlation between silica content and the hardness of wood. After moving to Delhi, she became a research officer at the Indian Council of Medical Research and co-authored a monograph on Indian medicinal plants.
Sharma joined the Indian Department of Science and Technology in 1974 as a senior scientific officer. She became the senior advisor in 1990, and assumed charge as the secretary of the government body in 1996. She was instrumental in the creation of the Biotech Consortium India Limited, a public-private partnership to promote the commercialization of biotechnology research. Upon the completion of her tenure, she was appointed advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2004.
Sharma founded the Indian Institute of Advanced Research in 2006, helped by endowments from the Puri Foundation for Education in India, to conduct research and provide higher education in plant sciences, human health, biomolecular medicine and bioinformatics. She served as president and executive director until 2012, when the institute re-constituted itself as a university and introduced a new governance mechanism. When M. S. Swaminathan took initiative in introducing a chapter on science and technology for women in the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980–85), a team led by Sharma prepared a report which was incorporated in the plan document on women and development. This was the first focused scheme on the subject, which has since been operated by the Department of Science and Technology.