Lecture Series in Advanced Biology 2021 Theme: Diseases, Pandemic, and Vaccines
Co-ordinators: Dhananjay Chaturvedi, Dhanya V. Menon, Geeta Deka, Manoj Kumar, Megha Abbey, Rajalakshmi Srinivasan, Renjitha Gopurappilly, Sandeep Ameta, Spraha Bhandari, Sriram Varahan, Vidya Ramesh
Date, time and venue: 4th July to 22nd August 2021, Every Sunday (except 14th August, Saturday) from 10 am to 1 pm (Virtual).
Brief introduction: 
Each year, the postdoc community of NCBS-InStem puts together an Advanced Lecture Series for undergraduate students based on our own expertise. We go beyond the textbook, presenting basic and relevant information across subjects to build up concepts and to encourage analytical thinking. 
Considering the current scenario, the theme for this year’s lecture series is “Diseases, Pandemic and Vaccines”. We are going through a pandemic, hearing it about on a daily basis, and learning to live with it. Therefore, this is a good opportunity to look at such diseases and pandemics from a broad perspective and learn about the biology of diseases, their spread, control strategies, remedies, and logistical challenges. We will cover broad topics from zoonotic disease biology to vaccines and related problems and in addition the effect of such pandemics on the mind and society. We will also include a couple of lectures from external speakers who are experts in this field.
This lecture series is tailored to suit final year undergraduate students and hence preference would be given to them during the selection process. However, the biggest factor contributing to selection is the answer to the screening question we pose. Students who have attended the lectures in the previous years are welcome to apply, but would be accommodated based on space availability. Please do spread the word to anyone who can possibly benefit. 
Unlike last year, this year we will be having virtual teaching sessions (another effect of pandemic!). Looking forward to seeing you there. 
Registration (Deadline 20th May 2021): For registration click here
Dhananjay Chaturvedi:
As an undergrad I studied microbiology but switched to Development from my masters’ onwards. I’ve studied brain development in mice and stem cells in Drosophila. Most recently our group uncovered a novel stem cell population in Adult fly muscles which maybe the basis of muscle maintenance and repair. This whole journey in knowledge had been enriching and rewarding. I’d like to share some of what fascinates me.
Dhanya V. Menon:
A student of science, eager to understand the intricacies involved in development and disease. My doctoral work aimed to unravel the mechanisms behind different pluripotency states in mouse, dog and human and their evolutionary significance using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) as models. My postdoctoral research at Prof. Raghu Padinjat`s lab in NCBS involves the use of brain organoids and iPS model systems in understanding the signalling alterations involved in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Geeta Deka:
I have obtained my Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and during this period I have explored the structure-function relationships of many important cytoplasmic enzymes using X-ray crystallography as a tool. Presently, I am working as a postdoctoral fellow, aiming to understand the structural chemistry of pathogenic viruses to design new antiviral strategies. In my lecture, I would like to discuss the role of structural biology in the fight against pathogens taking few examples from the field. 
Manoj Kumar:
I am trained in Soft Matter Chemistry. I received my Ph.D. in chemistry from CSIR-NCL, Pune (AcSIR), India. My initial research started with the understanding of membrane curvature in monoolein-water system using polymer as a proxy for proteins. The study also led us to understand the library of structures formed during the membrane interactions with the polymeric molecules. Now, I am working as postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Shashi Thutupalli at NCBS. My current research interest is in active matter and protocell systems. Here, I design active molecules and active polymers using squirmer model system.
Megha Abbey:
I did my Bachelor’s in Microbiology (H) from University of Delhi, India, Master’s in Biotechnology from Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, India and PhD from Hannover Medical School, Germany. During my PhD, I biochemically characterized a cytoskeletal protein. Then, I did a postdoc in the company set-up of Structural Genomics Consortium, Canada, where I developed high-throughput in vitro assays for protein interactions for compound library screenings, as a part of the different drug discovery projects. Spending my time abroad, I returned to join National Centre for Biological Sciences, India as a postdoc where I am currently trying to understand how cellular membranes mold themselves so as to give different shapes to different cellular organelles. 
Rajalakshmi Srinivasan:
During my Ph.D at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, I studied how bacterial cells finetune its gene expression pattern to increase its fitness. Currently, as a post-doctoral fellow at Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicines, I am working on understanding how amino acid signalling couples gene expression with the metabolic state of the cell, and its impact on several cellular processes.
Renjitha Gopurappilly:
I work in Prof. Gaiti Hasan's group at National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, investigating the role of intracellular calcium signaling in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) and embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived neural precursors and neurons in normal and diseased state. My work focuses on the use of 2D and the currently emerging 3D organoid system to model human brain development and to understand neurodegenerative disorders.
Sandeep Ameta:
I am an experimentalist interested in Origins of Life (OoL) problems. My work revolves around studying RNA catalysis and chemical self-replicating systems using interdisciplinary and high throughput approaches. In my postdoc, I worked on one of the fundamental questions of origins of life: ‘Can life begin as self-sustaining networks?’. To approach this problem, I built an experimental system using droplet-based microfluidics combining with single-cell sequencing (inDrop, Drop-Seq). Here at the Simons Centre NCBS, I am working on the exciting problem of experimentally demonstrating the emergence of autocatalytic networks from the library of diverse RNA fragments.
Sriram Varahan:
I got my PhD from the University of Kansas, USA where I looked at peptide pheromone signaling in bacterial biofilms (communities). Community behavior of cells has always fascinated me and when I joined the lab of Dr. Sunil Laxman at inStem, I decided to look at metabolic principles that drive the development of communities in the model organism yeast. We have identified some fundamental metabolic constraints that drive the development of yeast communities.
Vidya Ramesh:
I am a neuroscientist at InStem, NCBS. I have previously worked on studying the mechanisms underlying mammalian brain development. My current research is focused on using human stem cell technology to model neurodevelopmental disorders occurring in humans, such as autism.