B.S. Shankaranarayana Rao

Neurophysiology of learning and memory

Dr. B.S. Shankaranarayana Rao, FIAS, FSAB

Professor of Neurophysiology and Coordinator, Neurobiology Research Centre (NRC)
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS)
Hosur Road, Bengaluru –  560 029. India
e-mail: bssrao.nimhans@gmail.com / bssrao@nimhans.ac.in

Dr. Rao’s laboratory is primarily interested in exploring the (i) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning and memory, (ii) Amelioration of stress, anxiety, depression, hypoxia, aging and epilepsy-induced cognitive deficits, (iii) Activation of resident stem cells in the adult brain and its implications for treating brain disorders, (iv) Synaptic plasticity and brain repair mechanisms in knockout and transgenic mouse models of neurological and psychiatric disorders and (v) Drug development to treat Fragile X mental retardation and autism. Dr. Rao’s group has recently discovered that sustained modulation of serotonergic and noradrenergic systems completely restores the endogenous depression induced cognitive deficits. The most significant discovery is that low dose combination treatment with serotonergic and noradrenergic reuptake inhibitor antidepressants are best suited for treatment since it does not cause any side effects and no relapse of depressive symptoms. We have discovered for the first time that the activation of resident stem cells in the adult brain by social enrichment and pharmacological manipulations could restore cognitive deficits associated with stress, depression and epilepsy.

Dr. Rao’s collaborative research with Nobel Laurates Prof. Susumu Tonegawa and Prof. Eric Kandel and other collaborations with Prof. Bruce McEwen and Prof. Mark Bear has discovered the role of p-21 activated kinase in synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation, and alteration of this molecule could rescue the symptoms of fragile X mental retardation. We have established the functional role of presenilins in the regulation of synaptic plasticity mechanisms and age-dependent neurodegeneration and associated memory impairments. The path breaking discovery of correcting mental retardation and autism symptoms by manipulating glutamate signaling is translating in developing drugs for treatment of mental retardation and autism.

Dr. Rao is elected Fellow of Indian Academy of Neurosciences, Fellow of  Society for Applied Biotechnology and is a recipient of several International and National awards including the prestigious Sir CV Raman Young Scientist Award (2012), INSA Young Scientist Award (1997), Prof. SB Deshpande Oration Award in Neurophysiology (2016), Prof. Baldev Singh Oration Award (2009), B.K. Anand Research Prize (1995) Vignana Ratna Puraskar (2005) and many more. He is also a recipient of several International and National fellowships, research and travel grants. Received major grants from DST, DBT, LSRB, ICMR, CSIR, INSA, Pfizer-USA, Seaside therapeutics-USA, etc. Dr. Rao has published more than 150 publications in high impact factor International journals like Neuron, PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience etc. including Books : 5 Nos.; Book Chapters: 58 with citations of more than 7500. He has more than 500 International/National conference proceedings/abstracts and delivered over 300 invited guest lectures.

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