I am a lecturer at the School of Pharmacy and Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at UCC. My research focuses on the mechanistic investigation of the microbiota-brain interactions in the context of stress-related and social behaviours, using the model organisms of zebrafish and C. elegans. Building on my expertise, I have introduced these novel model systems in the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis Theme at APC Microbiome Ireland and operationalized a state-of-the-art zebrafish facility at the Biosciences Institute, UCC. My research interests build on a multidisciplinary approach extending from molecule to behaviour harnessing the genetic accessibility, scalability and translatability afforded by these model organisms, and accomplished using optogenetic tools, microscopy, behavioural and endocrine analysis and multi-omics dissection. The aim of this ambitious research programme is to push the frontiers in the exciting field of microbiota-gut-brain axis and provide tangible & translational microbiota-based therapeutics to combat stress and social behaviour-related deficits in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders (an overview is presented in my recent review published in journal Neuron https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2021.09.036).
I received my B.Sc. (Hons) Biochemistry from University of Delhi, India during which I was also a summer research fellow at a JNCASR, Bangalore, India. Before moving to Ireland supported by the prestigious IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, I was in Germany for over 10 years where I did my M.Sc. in Neuroscience (Göttingen), PhD specializing in optogenetics and nematode C. elegans behaviour (Frankfurt), followed by a post-doc on Zebrafish stress neurobiology (Mainz). During these formative years, I have published widely in top-notch journals (Nat. Comm., Neuron, Nat. Chem. Bio.) and have been awarded multiple awards and grants (Merit Scholarship for B.Sc., Max Planck Fellowship for M.Sc., Buchmann Best PhD thesis award 2016, and an intramural award for promotion of young scientists in Mainz).
Research theme: Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis
SDGs: SDG 3 - Good health and wellbeing; SDG 4 - Quality Education
Research key words:Microbiome-gut-brain communication, Zebrafish, C. elegans, Optogenetics, Neuropeptides, Neurodevelopment, Early-life stress, Stress-related behaviour, Social behaviour, Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis, Imaging
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=s9w1Xb0AAAAJ&hl=en