Petro Tel Distinguished Lecture - 2013


Dr K. Vijayraghavan ( Secretary, DBT, Govt of India )


Neural stem cells in the making of the brain


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Outreach Auditorium


4.00 PM (tea @ 3.30 PM)



A fly landing on a ripe banana negotiates multi-ple sensory-inputs from odors, its landscape, sounds, the wind, your swatter and makes an exquisite land-ing. The animal.s ability to deal with the real-world is assembled before it emerges from its pupal case, rais-ing the natural question about how this developmen-tal sophistication is achieved. Paring a behavior, we study how each unit is made and connected to cre-ate a coordinated marvel. Regional specialization is one unit of examination: What, for example, makes the flight system different from the walking. At the next level, specialized cell-types can be examined. At the final step, we examine how the units, sense organs nerves, muscles and tendons, connect to make a cir-cuit that behaves. At each level of examination genes are indispensable scalpels telling us the identity, func-tion, and placement of .nuts, bolts and glue. in the process of regional-, cellular- and circuit specializa-tion. In my talk, I will first introduce how animal behav-ior is put in place from the earliest stages of develop-ment and then focus on telling you about very new results on how the development, anatomy and func-tion of neuronal stem cell lineages in the brain of the fly is important for modulating specific behavioral re-sponses.

About the Distinguished Speaker

Born on 3 February 1954 in Chennai, India, VijayRaghavan studied B. Tech. in chemical engineering at IIT Kanpur (1970-75), M. Tech in 1975-77, and then moved into biology to complete a PhD at the Tata Institute in Bombay(1978-83). He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (1984-1986) and Senior Research Fellow (1986-1988) at the California Institute of Technology. He returned to India to work with Obaid Siddiqi and colleagues to start the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which has developed into an internationally recognized laboratory for modern biology. NCBS has worked with the Indian Government to expand its campus to add inStem, a major new institute for regenerative biology of which VijayRaghavan was its interim Director. He simultaneously developed a research program in muscle and neural development using Drosophila. The VijayRaghavan lab embarked on a study of motor neuron development and differentiation in collaboration with Darren Williams at King's College London leading to an understanding of the birth order and dendritic positioning in the central nervous system. His laboratory continues to expand efforts here, in integrating the emergence of neural connectivity with function.
In 1998, K. VijayRaghavan was conferred with the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Tech-nology by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Re-search. In 2003, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award of IIT Kanpur. He is also a recipient of the Infosys Prize in the life sciences category in 2009. Recently, he has been conferred the prestigious Padma Shri Award by the Government of India for the year 2013. Since January 28, 2013, VijayRaghavan is Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

About the Donor

The Petro Tel Distinguished Lecture series in Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT Kanpur, has been endowed by a generous grant from Dr. Anil K. Chopra (B. Tech./ChE/IITK/1976; Ph. D., University of Houston, USA, 1982), President, CEO and Chairman of Petro Tel Inc., 5240 Tennyson Parkway, Suite 207, Plano, TX, USA.