The circadian system comprising of the neuronal circuit and assayable, robust behaviours controlled by them are known to be compromised in multiple neurodegenerative conditions. Such circadian dysfunctions are suspected to further disrupt neuronal homeostasis and worsen neurodegenerative symptoms. Multiple cellular systems are involved in this feed-forward snowballing effect. The circadian neuronal circuit, therefore serves as a versatile handle to study the key players in neurodegeneration. During my research, I sought to test and establish circadian neuronal and associated behavioural effects upon expressing the neurodegenerative Huntingtin protein in Drosophila circadian neurons. My primary focus is to uncover (or screen for) environmental and genetic modifiers of disease phenotypes both at neuronal and behavioural levels.
MS (2019), thesis title: "Clocking Sleep: Role of dorsolateral clock neurons in the sleep circuit of Drosophila melanogaster". Currently grad student at Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research.
Vijay Kumar Sharma
Late Prof Vijay Kumar Sharma headed the Chronobiology Laboratory at JNCASR from 1999 till his passing in October 2016. He was among a handful of scientists worldwide who used long-term laboratory selection approaches to study circadian rhythms. The research programme included both experimental and theoretical components, which has led to major new results and ideas in areas of adaptive evolution, chronobiology, sociobiology and neurogenetics. Research from the lab has provided empirical evidence for (a) the adaptive significance and evolution of circadian clocks, (b) instantaneous phase-resetting of circadian clocks, (c) role of circadian clocks in regulating developmental time, (d) socio-sexual interaction-mediated changes in activity rhythm and sleep, (f) role of olfactory receptor neurons in male-mating success, (g) circadian plasticity in carpenter ants Camponotus compressus, (i) novel mechanisms governing circadian egg-laying rhythm in Drosophila, and (j) unique features of circadian rhythms of Drosophila in nature. Thus, the studies straddle different levels of research in biology from evolutionary and organismal biology to the molecular and neuronal underpinnings of behaviours.
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Alumni (Chronobiology lab)
MS (2015), thesis title: "Probing the circadian clocks of fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster populations selected for morning and evening adult emergence".
PhD (2020, provisional), thesis title: "Circadian organization and mechanisms of entrainment in populations of Drosophila melanogaster selected for divergent timing of eclosion". Currently Postdoctoral Research Associate at Advanced Science Research Center, Graduate Center, City University of New York.