People

Vidita Vaidya

Principal Investigator

Vidita Vaidya received her undergraduate degree from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai in Life-Science and Biochemistry. She obtained her PhD in Neuroscience at Yale University in the lab of Prof. Ronald Duman. Her postdoctoral work was done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden with Prof. Ernest Arenas and at the University of Oxford in the UK with Prof. David Grahame-Smith. She joined the Department of Biological Sciences, TIFR, as a faculty member in March 2000. Her research group's work has been recognized by the National Bioscientist Award in 2012 and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Medical Sciences in 2015. In 2019, Vidita received the Nature Award for Mentoring in Science in the mid-career category and in 2021 the JC Bose National Fellowship from the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB). Vidita is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI) and the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS). She is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay and also serves as a Senior Editor for the European Journal of Neuroscience. When not in the lab, Vidita moonlights as an avid storyteller, frequent traveler, and a scientific outreach enthusiast. Vidita is committed to enhancing equity and diversity in academia, and working to break down the barriers that prevent academic working environments from being inclusive spaces.

Pratik Chaudhari

India Alliance DBT WT Early Career Fellow

Pratik did his Masters in Medical Biotechnology from Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences, Ahmednagar. He did his Ph.D. from ACTREC, Navi Mumbai where he studied the role of hemidesmosomal linker proteins in neoplastic progression of oral cancer cells. He joined Vidita's lab in December 2017. Currently, his work focuses on investigating the contribution of mitochondrial metabolism and function in early life stress induced psychopathologies and accelerated aging in rodents. He loves to play cricket, volleyball, and carrom. He is also fond of gardening, and cycling.

Balaganesh Janakiraman

India Alliance DBT WT Early Career Fellow

Balaganesh obtained his PhD in molecular mechanisms of asymmetric cell division in bacteria from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER-TVM), Thiruvananthapuram (2018). He is primarily interested in Philosophy of Science, History of Everything, Role of information storage and dissemination in biological systems and enjoys problem solving. His work in the Vaidya lab is focussed on fast-acting antidepressants treatments and epigenetic modifications that drive neuroplasticity. During breaks, he can be seen doing trekking, weekend cycling trips to random locations and enjoying local culture and cuisine and appreciating art.

Shaista Jabeen

Postdoctoral Fellow

Shaista looked at the roles of gap junctions, in chemical synaptogenesis while she was doing her Ph.D. at NCBS, Bangalore. She is interested in understanding networks that mediate the behavioral and functional effects of serotonergic psychedelics. She likes reading books and listening to music, but above all, she loves spending time with her baby girl.

Kowshik Kukkemane

Sree Padmavathi Venkateswara Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

Kowshik obtained his PhD from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) where he studied mechanisms of circadian clock disruption in a rodent model of aging and therapeutic interventions using natural compounds. Soon after, he spent a year studying lysosomal enzymes and specific receptors in Hydra at the Biochemistry department, UoH. His work in Vidita's lab is primarily focused on exploring the role of Sirtuin1 in mood-related behavior and early life adversities in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders. Literature, theater, movies and photography are his parallel interests.

Toshali Banerjee

Graduate Student

Toshali completed her B.Sc. in Microbiology from Bidhannagar Government College, Kolkata. In the lab, her work is focused on understanding the role of 5HT2A receptors as critical targets of serotonergic psychedelics, in particular the contribution of lipid signaling in their action. She is also interested in the influence of Gq signaling within specific subsets of cortical neurons during critical developmental windows in programming resilience/vulnerability to stress. When not in the lab, Toshali enjoys cooking, reading books on a rainy day, dancing, singing and drawing Mandalas.

Praachi Tiwari

Graduate Student

Praachi completed her B.Tech. (Biotechnology) from Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad. Currently, she is interested in understanding neuronal networks that mediate the behavioral and functional effects of serotonergic psychedelics. In her free time, she loves to read and dance. Lately, she has started trying her hands on Ukelele and Kalimba. She is also a big foodie and loves exploring various food-joints across the city.

Darshana Kapri

Graduate Student

Darshana has a B.Tech (Biotechnology) from Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad. Her interests lie in studying the influence of monoamines on bioenergetics and the implications of these effects in contributing to the effects of monoamines on emotional behaviors. She also studies the neurogenic effects of the Thyroid hormone and its regulation of mood. Apart from science, she enjoys music, poetry, dance and exploring the city.

Utkarsha Ghai

Graduate Student

Utkarsha received her B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Delhi and M.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Hyderabad. She is interested in studying the mechanisms and neurocircuitry underlying the influence of serotonin in programming emotional behavior. She also examines the influence of serotonin on neuronal bioenergetics in distinct developmental windows. Outside lab she likes to read, watching stand-up comedy and exploring food joints.

Aastha Singla

Graduate Student

Aastha did her B.Sc. (Biology and Chemistry) from MCM DAV College, Chandigarh. She is interested in the metabolic pathways and neurotransmitter signaling mechanisms involved in the mood modulatory effects of voluntary exercise on the brain, in particular within limbic brain regions that play a critical role in the regulation of mood. When not doing science, she can be found dancing, shopping, exploring the city, and photographing.

Suchit Mendon

Graduate Student

Suchith obtained his bachelor's in microbiology, biotechnology and chemistry from Ramaiah College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Bengaluru, and a master's degree in Human Disease Genetics from the Centre for Human Genetics, Bengaluru. He is interested in exploring the role of life history in regulating psychedelic-mediated effects on emotional states. His hobbies include singing, playing musical instruments like the keyboard, and exploring various cuisines.

Amartya Pradhan

Masters Student

Amartya completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnology from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (University of Delhi). He served as one of the founding members of an international student-run neuroscience initiative, Project Encephalon. In 2019, Amartya was awarded the Khorana Scholarship by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) and WINStep Forward. In the lab, he studies the role of serotonergic psychedelics and Gq-coupled 5-HT2A receptors in the regulation of neuronal plasticity, cytoarchitecture, and mood-related behaviors. Amartya also studies the contribution of 5-HT2A receptors to the influence of early trauma on programming persistent changes in anxiety, despair, cognition and sensorimotor gating behavior. Outside of lab, he enjoys dancing, hiking, traveling, exploring cuisines, and volunteering for social causes.

Amogh BJ

Masters Student

Amogh completed his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram. His areas of academic interest include the biological basis of mental health, neuroscience, epidemiology and medical education. His hobbies include painting and performing stage magic.

Mukund Sharma

Masters Student

Mukund Completed his Bachelors in Mathematics and Chemistry from St.Stephen's College, Delhi. He loves to describe himself as a chemist-turned-biologist. He is an avid reader with his interests spanning spy thrillers, war history. His hobbies include playing basketball and collecting coins.

Angarika Balakrishnan

Junior Research Fellow

Angarika completed her B.Sc. in Biotechnology from Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College, Mumbai, and M.Sc. in Biological Sciences from Sunandan Divatia School of Science. She aims to pursue a Ph.D. in the field of behavioral neuroscience, her primary interest lies in studying perturbations in neural circuits underlying mood-related disorders and impulsive behaviors. Apart from research, you’ll find her dancing her heart away or petting an animal!

Vani Dewan

Fulbright Scholar

Vani received her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Music from Scripps College in Los Angeles, California. Her previous research experience includes forensic neuroimaging, elder financial fraud & decisional capacity, and neuroscience of creativity, with a specific focus on musical improvisation. Outside of research, her interests include DJing, singing, and exploring artistic, cultural, and culinary experiences throughout the city.

Maithily Hingmire

Dissertation Student

Maithily is a 5th-year BS-MS student majoring in Biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali. In the lab, she studies the effect of pharmacological and environmental intervention on the metabolic & neuronal signalling pathways and behaviour in the rodent brain. Outside the lab, Maithily enjoys photography, reading, baking and watching pretty sunsets at TIFR!

Collaboration

Sashaina Fanibunda

Assistant Professor, Kasturba Health Society-MRC and Vaidya Lab-TIFR Alliance

Sashaina received her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences from St. Xavier’s College, her Ph.D in Biochemistry from ICMR-NIRRH and completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at the Vaidya lab at TIFR, Mumbai. Currently Sashaina’s research focusses on mitochondrial psychobiology, elucidating the role of serotonin in programming emotional behaviors, and exploring mood modulatory roles of plant-derived indole-alkaloid psychoactives. In her spare time, she likes to participate in social service activities, play table tennis and do random stuff with her twin!