Dr. Vatsala Thirumalai

Dr. Vatsala Thirumalai


B.Tech BiotechnologyAnna UniversityP. GautamLipase catalysis in industrial production
PhDBrandeis UniversityEve MarderUnderstanding motor circuit function in crustacean stomatograstric system



Post-doctoralCold Spring Harbour Laboratory, New YorkHollis ClineDevelopment of motor patterns in larval zebrafish
Post-doctoralNational Institue of Health (NIH), BethesdaMichael O’DonovanSynaptic deficits in a mouse model of Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Principal InvestigatorNational Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), IndiaNeural Circuits and Development labNeural control of movement during development and in adulthood 

Talk title: Cerebellar activation during motor behaviors

The cerebellum is critical for motor co-ordination and balance. It is also thought to play important roles in non-motor functions. Though we have known the circuit elements within the cerebellum for a century, we still do not understand how this circuit functions. The cerebellum is also conserved in all vertebrates underlining its primacy for survival. We use larval zebrafish to study cerebellar development and function. We have exploited the transparency of the early larval stages, ability to label specific neuronal cell types and the ability to generate mutants and transgenics to study neurons in the cerebellum at various levels of analysis – from molecular to cellular, systems and behavioral scales. In my talk, I will present key discoveries from the fish which help to illuminate cerebellar function during motor behaviors.

About Dr. Vatsala Thirumalai:

Dr. Vatsala Thirumalai’s lab is interested in understanding the hierarchy, mechanisms and development of neural circuits that generate movement. Their focus is on the development of central pattern generators and the development of descending motor control from the brain. They also seek to understand the mechanisms by which brain locomotor circuits control movement in mature organisms. They use zebrafish, a small fresh water tropical fish endemic to the Ganges, as their model system. They employ a suite of techniques such as whole-cell patch clamp, calcium imaging and light-sheet microscopy to tease out the circuitry responsible for generating swimming in developing and more mature zebrafish. Using these cutting edge tools and technologies, they hope to throw light on the development of neural circuits and the neural basis of locomotion.