The National Centre for Biological Sciences is delighted to welcome Soumyashree Das, who joins the NCBS as its newest faculty member.
Soumya’s work is in basic cardiovascular research. She seeks to answer some of the outstanding questions in the field of coronary heart disease-a leading cause of adult mortality in India and worldwide.
During her postdoctoral training at Stanford University in California, she described a novel cellular mechanism which facilitates creation of a special kind of coronary artery in mice--the coronary collateral arteries. Collateral arteries are artery segments that connect two conventional arteries and are life-saving in human patients suffering from one or more coronary occlusions. Collateral arteries connect the occluded artery to a perfused healthy artery and provide auxiliary blood flow to the affected cardiac tissue. Her work unravelled the physiological trigger, cellular source, and molecular pathways that remodel the pre-existing coronary artery network into collateral arteries upon injury. Additionally, she showed that these coronary collateral arteries actively participate in, and promote heart regeneration in mice.
Prior to that, in her graduate research at Rutgers University in New Jersey, she demonstrated that the intestinal stem cell fate heavily depended on secretion (and subsequent signalling) of WNT--a key growth and proliferation factor. This secretion is directly facilitated by a vesicle transport protein Rab8a, without which, the primary stem cell population was depleted. This study highlighted a much under-explored research area of the WNT secretory pathway.
In her own laboratory at the NCBS, Soumya will combine mouse genetics, experimental injury (myocardial infarction/stroke) models and whole-tissue and live-imaging techniques, to investigate the molecular intricacies of collateral biology. She plans to dissect the mechanistic details of coronary collateral remodelling in these vital organs, with the hope to identify potential therapeutic targets for coronary artery disease.