Dr. Bala Pandi

March 18, 1951November 23, 2020
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Bala Pandi was born on March 18th 1951 in Tiruvengadu, a village in the southern part of Tamil Nadu, India. He was the eldest of four children.

He earned his Bachelor degree in Science and Master’s degree in Physics from Madras University. He then went on to the field of crystallography from Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and taught at Bharathidasan University for 10 years. Afterwards, he travelled to London where he was a research fellow in molecular biology at the Birkbeck College in London and obtained his PhD. Making the move to the USA, he obtained a position as an Assistant Professor at the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To arrive at his final home destination, he accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation in San Diego. Here he established a scientific computer center which utilized high speed computers to solve the mysteries of biological macromolecules. He published his book Structural Based Drug design, during this time. Later, he went on to start his own company Axiom Biotechnologies which developed technologies for drug screening and optimization. He joined CTK biotechnologies which manufactures and distributes Point of Care diagnostic test kits to more than 130 countries and served as Executive Board of Director for 10 years. As his last endeavor, he led the establishment of Athenese in India, a CTK company with diagnostic capability in India.

As driven as Dr. Pandi was in his career, he had equal passions in his hobbies. He was a plant and flower enthusiast, an avid traveler and held a deep passion for technology, art and foods. Although he had numerous plants from around the world, he respected the art of bonsai and was often enamored by them. He spent much time at the Balboa Park, spending many hours at the Art Village (which he had the chance to visit days before his passing). Inspired by its artistic beauty and its engineering requirement, he built several Calder mobiles on the weekends. He saw beauty in many things to include culture and foods of different countries and would often recount his experiences to his friends and family. Later in his life, he became fascinated with planes and drones which drove him to invest in a company that sold model airplanes. He could often be seen at various hills practicing flying his RC planes. To some he may have seemed restless, but the truth was that he was eager to fit in all his passions in a day and leap to the next adventure.

But of all his interests, he cherished his friendships the most, both from his younger years and the bonds he made later in life.

Dr. Pandi passed away on November 23, 2020 surrounded by his loved ones. He leaves behind his loving wife Leela, his children Vidhya and Vanitha, his son in law Cade Johnson, and his grandchildren Surya and Caleb and many friends and colleagues who loved him dearly. His accomplishments were outmatched only by his generosity to others.

If you know Dr. Pandi, we hope you remember the phrase he used most often, “That’s beautiful!”

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  • Memorial Service

    Monday, December 7, 2020


Dr. Bala Pandi

have a memory or condolence to add?

Vincent Flynn

December 26, 2020

Thank you for including me in your life Pandi. I have nothing but great memories of flying helicopters and hanging out at the hobby shop. You are a caring and generous friend that I will miss dearly. Love to the family. I don’t do social media, so I just found out today of your passing.

Vincent J Flynn (aka, John)

Vidhya Pandi

December 9, 2020


December 8, 2020

It is terrible to express your loss and difficult to explain the pain . During my career I have not seen such a director who is like a father, guardian , care taker, pioneer. You are just a lovely and wonderful man ever. I remember I had family difficulty and when I explained you, I can not forget it how you motivated me and make me understood and helped me lot. The journey with such great person is always immortal. You are the best human being in the world. Your memory will be always with me and my family. I love you sir. I extend my deepest sympathies to you and your family sir.

Matt and Emilie Peterson

December 7, 2020

Pandi and his family were so kind to us when we moved to San Diego 4 years ago. We appreciated their smiles and friendship when we were new in our neighborhood. We always enjoy looking at Pandi’s beautiful garden which grows flowers year round as well as many other interesting varieties of plants. We will miss this kind, smiling friend.

Amit Tiwari

December 7, 2020

Dr Pandi sir was every thing for me like father . I have never meet person like him in my life so far . He was mentor / coach / father everything to me . I am going to miss him too much . Miss you sir


December 6, 2020

Dear Leela Maam,

Words feel so feeble and voice hollow in a futile attempt to fully express the tremendous loss which we have all borne with passing away of Pandi sir. During our brief yet intense association with him for the past 5 years, Sir had come to be our mentor and a true father figure. He was phenomenal in every sense. He had an infectious energy which invigorated others around him. His passing away has left a void so deep that will never be filled. The world has lost an incredible life.

We will forever remain indebted to the almighty for the lifetime opportunity to meet and work with sir.

May God give strength and peace to all he left behind.

RIP Dr. Bala Pandi sir

Dr. Naveen Shah
Dr. Neelisha Shah

Tom Blundell

December 6, 2020

Pandi joined my group over 30 years ago as a research fellow in molecular and structural biology at Birkbeck College in London University. There he obtained his PhD working on biophysics and X-ray analysis of aspartic proteinases, obtaining a 2.1 Å resolution of endothiapepsin, which we used as a model enzyme to study the human renin, important in the regulation of blood pressure.

Pandi sought to understand the mechanism of these regulatory enzymes by describing the tetrahedral 'intermediate' in the mechanism and the domain flexibility of this family of enzymes, so important to function. Pandi did extensive studies on complexes with a transition-state isostere inhibitor of renin at an impressive 1.6Å resolution. This provided a model for design of drugs that might inhibit renin and so help to control blood pressure. He published five significant papers with my group and these will continue to have an impact on modern structure-guided drug discovery that is so important for designing new medicines.

Since leaving our lab, Pandi moved to the USA as a professor to lead his own group, first at the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology in Gaithersburg, Maryland and subsequently at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation in San Diego. He has developed further work on drug design, publishing an impressive volume, entitled Structural Based Drug design, and founded the company Axiom Biotechnologies.

I remember Pandi as a very collaborative and interactive scientist who was central to my group, particularly as I was distracted by advising our Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and running research councils in the UK while he was with us.

Pandi will be very sadly missed. I send my love and condolences to his family.

Anders Svensson

December 5, 2020

Dear Pandi,

You and I meet 1989 at CARB, Gaithersburg, Maryland, and we immediately became buddies. One of my most intense memories is when we together went to listen to Miles Davis. A wonderful evening. During the time in Gaithersburg you often talked about your dear family and your plan for them to join you in the US. When it was time for me to leave the US I needed to sell my car and furniture, but without success. However, you quickly stepped in, and with your business skills, fixed it in no time. I was very impressed and also very happy.

From that time on I followed you from abroad and was more and more stroked by your determination, business skills and successes and also very happy to see you had your family around you again. After several years, however, I was personally strongly hit by a divorce. We talked and you said; come over! I did, met you again and your lovely family. That became for me an important turning point and life started finally to spiraling upwards again. I am so grateful to you and your family for what you did for me at that difficult time.

Since then I have been honored to attend Vidhya and Cade’s wedding. You, Leela and me have also gone on a vacation together visiting some fantastic National Parks. You sat in the back seat together with three large boxes filled with binders and papers because you needed to work. Afterwards you admitted that you did never use the material. It was a very enjoyable tour and we even started to plan to buy a camper and travel the US together. Unfortunately than only became a dream.

My heart is filled with sorrow, but, I also write this with a big smile on my face. It has been a great privilege to get to know you and your family. I regard you as a big brother, with lots of energy, great compassion and you are an important part of my life. Thank you Pandi, Leela, Vidhya and Vanitha!

Our deepest sympathy, Anders Svensson, together with my wife Jun Wang Hjelm and my brother Jörgen

Rudy and Kathleen Fischer

December 4, 2020

Dear Leela, Vidyha and Vanitha,
We have many fond memories of you and Pandi from when we lived across the street from you for 10 years! And we are so so sad to hear of Pandi's passing.
He was a wonderful friend and neighbor, along with you, Leela! We loved his energy, his devotion to you all, his love of gardening. What an entrepreneur he was!! He loved life, that is for sure.
In my mind, he is up in heaven now. He will always be in your hearts.
Wishing you love and comfort,
Rudy and Kathleen Fischer

Vandana Sridhar

December 3, 2020

Words may not suffice to express the heartfelt sorrow that I feel for the passing of uncle Pandi.A beautiful soul, full of love and positive , strong, passion for plants ascended to heaven, away from us, but closer to God. I will cherish the beautiful plants he gave me couple of months back .Please accept my condolences.