About Fellow

State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA

University of Washington, Seattle, USA
National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore

National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore

My evolution as a scientist has taken many twists and turns. I started out with an interest in membrane proteins, working with Prof Anil Lala at IIT Bombay. When I entered grad school at Stony Brook, I expected to further this interest and sought rotations in labs that specialized in probing structure-function relationships of membrane proteins. But the membrane has two primary components – lipids and proteins, and just to try something different in my first rotation I decided to work on the lipid aspect. What I learned, fascinated me – at that time the Singer and Nicholson model of membrane organization was being revisited and the biophysical properties of lipids were beginning to matter in terms of membrane lipid organization. Under the supervision of Prof Erwin London I completed my PhD in Biochemistry and Structural Biology – exploring how the structure of sterols and ceramides affected their participation in ordered lipid domains. While I deeply enjoyed in vitro work, for my postdoc I wanted to work on more biologically relevant systems. I moved to the University of Washington, Seattle to pursue a postdoc in infectious diseases, which unfortunately did not work out. Back in India I decided to try science administration by working in The Wellcome Trust/ DBT India Alliance. While it was tremendously exciting to set up an office and new systems, learn how grants are managed and lead a team of scientists, I missed bench science and decided to go back to it. This was a tough decision as it had been 4 years since I had held a pipette! Luckily, Prof Gaiti Hasan offered me a position in her laboratory. Her laboratory uses Drosophila melanogaster as a model system and this aligned with my goal to study a biological system and do in vivo work. I had very helpful lab members who taught me tricks of working with flies and in a few months, I submitted a proposal based on the on going work in the lab and my interest, lipids. A mutant fly developed in our lab is obese and I hope with my Early Career Fellowship to explore this phenotype in the context of neuropeptide release.