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Microbiological and Chemical Exposure Assessment Staff

Manju Varma

Title: Biologist

EPA Division: Microbiological and Chemical Exposure Assessment Research Division

EPA Branch: Microbial Exposure Research Branch

My diverse research background encompasses various aspects of analytical, natural products, medicinal, synthetic organic chemistry (peptide & DNA) and the application of the experience in the chemical and bio-medical areas including development of environmental-friendly synthetic manipulations using microwave technology. Presently, my research involves working on rapid detection methods for recreational waters (lakes, fresh as well as marine waters) using real time PCR, DNA cloning and novel techniques in detecting live/dead fecal indicators in waste water, evaluating panel of newer assays to detect micro-organisms potentially originating from human fecal sources and to characterize the fecal pollution and associated human health risks based on index of relative indicator abundances thereby establishing a correlation between recreational water quality and swimming associated illness rates among the beach goers.


  • Ph.D. Natural Product Chemistry, 1979, Delhi University, India
  • M.S. Organic Chemistry, 1975, Delhi University, India
  • B.S. Chemistry (Honors)1973, Delhi University, India

Professional Experience:

  • March, 2002 – present Microbiologist, U.S. EPA, NERL.
  • 2000 – 2002 ORISE Research Fellow, U.S. EPA, NERL.
  • 1996 – 2000 Senior Peptide Chemist, Sigma-Genosys Biotechnology, Inc.
  • 1988 – 1994 Research Assistant Professor, Center for Biotechnology, Baylor College of Medicine.
  • 1985 – 1986 Research Associate, University of Tennessee.
  • 1981 – 1982 Visiting Scientist, The Robert Robinson Laboratory, Liverpool, U.K.
  • 1979 – 1981 Research Officer, University College of North Wales, Bangor, U.K.
  • 1978 – 1979 NORAD Fellow, Norwegian Institute of Technology, Norway.
  • 1975 – 1977 Research Fellow, Delhi University

Select Awards and Honors:

  • Third Place Award for a Poster in U.S. EPA Science Forum, 2006
  • NORAD Fellowship, Norwegian Government, Oslo Norway, 1977 – 1979
  • Research Fellowship, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (C.S.I.R), Government of India. 1973 – 1975
  • USEPA STAA Award, Level 1, 2010
  • USEPA STAA Award, Level 1, 2010
  • SUBE Fellow, University of Puerto Rico, 1989–1992

Select Presentations:

  • M. Varma, R. Field, M. Stinson, B. Rukovets, L. Wymer and R. Haugland :Quantitative analyses of total and propidium monoazide resistant fecal indicator bacteria target sequences in wastewater by real-time PCR, Water Research, special issue 43,19,4790-4801(2009).
  • Varma, M., J.D. Hester, F.W. Schaefer, III, M.W. Ware and H.D.A. Lindquist. 2003: Detection of Cyclospora cayetanensis Using a Quantitative Real-Time PCR Assay, Journal of Microbiological Methods 53:27–36
  • Richard A Haugland; Manju Varma; Mano Sivaganesan; Catherine Kelty; Lindsay Peed and Orin C Shanks :Evaluation of genetic markers from the 16S rRNA gene V2 region for use in quantitative detection of selected Bacteroidales species and human fecal waste by real time PCR ,Systematic and Applied Microbiology 33 348-357(2010)
  • Shanks, O.C., C. Kelty, M. Sivaganesan, M. Varma, and R.A. Haugland: Quantitative PCR for genetic markers of human fecal pollution, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75, 17, 5507-5513(2009).
  • Mano Sivaganesan, Shawn Siefring, Manju Varma, Richard A Haugland and Orin C Shanks: A Bayesian method for calculating real-time quantitative PCR calibration curves using absolute plasmid DNA standards, BMC Bioinformatics 9:120 (2008)

Published & Presented Research (1999-Present)

Contact Info:

Manju Varma
Microbiological and Chemical Exposure Assessment Research Division
National Exposure Research Laboratory
Office of Research and Development
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
27 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45268
Telephone: 513-569-7120
Fax: 513-487-2512 or 513-569-7170

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