Sreekanth Chalasani

2009 Regional Award Winner — Post-Doc

Sreekanth Chalasani

Current Position:
Associate Professor of Molecular Neurobiology

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies (Previously at The Rockefeller University)


Recognized for: Using simple models to develop diagnostic and therapeutic tools for complex neurological diseases

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Neuroscience, Behavior, Model organisms, Genetics, Imaging


PhD, Biology, University of Pennsylvania
BS, Genetics, Zoology, Chemistry, Osmania University, India

One goal of neuroscience is to understand how complex neural circuits process information and guide behavior. Individual neurons are the building blocks of a circuit, however, studying them in isolation is insufficient to comprehend how the circuit functions and regulates behavior. Surprisingly, neural circuits may share basic organizational principles with gene networks. In the case of gene networks, genetic analysis has proven remarkably successful in deciphering complex phenomenon such as embryonic development. I am hoping to apply similar genetic analyses to understand how neural circuits process information and to establish causality between neuronal activity and animal behavior.

We have combined genetics, imaging, and behavioral analysis with bioengineering methods to analyze how C. elegans neural circuits generate flexible behaviors. In particular we have been focused on the “adaptive brain” and have shown that (i) the composition of the chemosensory circuits are flexible; (ii) food signals drive behavioral plasticity; (iii) dopamine modulates learning circuits; and (iv) a novel circuit drives C. elegans predator avoidance and physiological stress in addition to developing tools to allow us to image and manipulate neurons.

I intend to unravel the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie neuronal functions such as learning, memory and fear in the nematode. While my primary interests are in basic neuroscience, I am also interested using simple models to develop diagnostic and therapeutic tools for complex neurological diseases.

Key Publications:

  1. Chalasani, S.H., Chronis, N., Tsunozaki, M., Gray, J.M., Ramot, D., Goodman, M.B., and Bargmann, C.I. Dissecting a neural circuit for olfactory behaviour in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature. 2007
  2. Chalasani, S.H., Kato, S., Albrecht, D.R., Nakagawa, T., Abbot, L.F., and Bargmann, C.I. Neuropeptide feedback modifies odor-evoked dynamics in C.elegans olfactory neurons. Nature Neuroscience. 2010
  3. Leinwand, S.G. and Chalasani, S.H. Neuropeptide signaling remodels chemosensory circuit composition in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature Neuroscience. 2013

In the Media:

Testing Neurons With Ultrasound. New York Times. SEPT. 28, 2015
Sound waves used to activate brain cells in a worm. BBC Science. 16 September 2015
Worm's Mental GPS Helps Them Find Food. December 10, 2014
Insulin plays a role in mediating worms' perceptions and behaviors. September 13, 2013