Scientist Profile

Gaurav Das, Ph.D.


Research Areas



Education and Experience

Scientist E, National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune. December 2017-present

Post doctoral fellow, Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (CNCB), University of Oxford, UK. Group leader: Dr Scott Waddell. January 2012-October 2017

Post doctoral fellow, Department of Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA. Group leader: Dr Scott Waddell. May 2010-December 2011

PhD student, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah, USA. Dissertation supervisor and group leader: Dr Edward Levine. August 2002-April 2010

Masters degree in Biotechnology, School of Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. 2000-2002

Bachelors degree in Chemistry with Biotechnology, Ahmednagar College, Pune University, India. 1997-2000


Research Focus

Our lab utilizes the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. We primarily develop and deploy learning dependent behavioural assays in flies. Subsequently we try to understand the neural and molecular basis of such learning and memory dependent behaviours. We do this by using the robust genetic tools available in flies. These tools allow us to manipulate neurons with temporal precision, perform neuron specific analysis of gene or protein expression and also to image the in vivo activity of specific neurons in alive, behaving flies. The following are some of the ongoing projects in the lab.

a) Neurobiology of nutrient specific memories: Their formation, storage and expression to guide feeding.

Memories of post feeding experiences are critical in making food choices. Such memories can guide choice towards a particular food source that redresses current nutrient deficiencies. However it is not well understood how individual nutrient component from a food source is encoded in the brain and remembered. We will use novel behavior paradigms to assay for nutrient specific learning and to understand the neural circuit basis of forming, storing and recalling nutrient specific information.

b) How high calorie foods alter the brain to affect learned behaviours

High calorie food are ubiquitous in our times. How chronic exposure to foods high in sugar or fats affects our brain is a standing question. Drosophila has been used to undertake studies on physiology and metabolism under chronic high sugar and high fat diets. Our goal is to determine how such diets alter physiology and gene expression profile of specific neurons in the fly brain to alter learned behaviours.


Das G, Lin S and Woddell S. (2016) "Remembering Components of Food in Drosophila". Front. Integr. Neurosci. 10`4. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2016.00004

Owald D, Felsenberg J, Talbot C, Das G, Perisse E, Huetteroth W, Waddell S. (2015). "Activity of a defined mushroom body output synapse underlies learned alfactory behavior in Drosophila". Neuron. 2015 Apr 22;86(2):41727.

Das G, Klappenbach M, Vrontou E, Perisse E, Clark CM, Burke CJ, W0ddell S. (2014) "Drosophila learn opposing components of a compound food stimulus". Curr Biol. 2014 Aug 4; 24(15): 1723- 30.

Burke CJ, Huetteroth W, Awald D, Perisse E, Krashes MJ, Das G , Goh D, Silies M, Certel S & Waddell S. (2012) "Layered reward signalling through octopamine and dopamine in Drosophila". Nature. 2012 Dec 20; 492(7429):4337.

Das G , Clark AM, Levine EM. (2012) "Cyclin D1 inactivation extends proliferation and alters neurogenesis in the postnatal mouse retina". Dev Dyn. 2012 May 241(5):94152.

Das G , Choi, Y, Sicinski P, Levine EM. (2009) "Cyclin D1 finetunes the neuronal output of embryonic retinal progenitor cells". Neural Dev. 2009 4`15 doi: 10.1186/17498104415.


Honours and Awards

Awarded Ramanujan Fellowship, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. 2017

Awarded Ramalingaswami Fellowship, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (not availed). 2017

Research Member of the Common Room, Wolfson College,University of Oxford, UK. 2014-2016

Graduate Student Travel Award, University of Utah, USA. To attend GRC on Visual System Development. 2006

Junior Research Fellowship and Lectureship, Qualified CSIR UGC, National Eligibility Test. 2002

Graduate Merit Scholarship, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.


The lab is currently funded by NCCS intramural funds. Gaurav is a Ramanujan Fellow since 2018.



Dr Sneha Bajpe, Assistant Professor at Symbiosis Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Pune.


If you are interested in studying the neural circuit basis of instinctive or experience driven feeding behaviour or have a cool neurobiological question of your own that can be addressed using Drosophila, please write to Gaurav about a self funded postdoc position. Potential PhD students can apply through the NCCS PhD intake programme (twice a year, updated on NCCS website). MSc students can apply through the biannual Project Trainee programme and work in the lab for 6 months. If you are an engineering student or somebody with coding experience and interested in delving into how the brain works, get in touch with Gaurav. For 2-3 month long summer training, you can apply through the academy of sciences summer fellowship programme. Finally, if you are in anyway interested in neurobiology and what we do in the lab, do not hesitate to get in touch.


Last updated On : 27 January 2023 07:32

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