Laboratory of Epigenetics of Behaviour and Diseases

Our interests lie in unraveling basic molecular mechanisms of how the environment shapes us as genetic beings either within our lifetime or over short transgenerational periods, a phenomenon that seems to play a role in dictating our eventual evolutionary path. We study molecular mechanisms of, how environmental insults - modulate heritable gene expression, a hallmark of epigenetic change. We characterize these changes, both at single (candidate) gene resolution or by studying the global epigenome (chromatin remodelors, histone modifications and their effectors/modulators/readers, DNA methylation) . Our current focus in Cancer Epigenetics lies in understanding how environmental insults in the early life of an individual (be it foetal or during its infancy/adolescence/young adult) translates to either behavioural changes (eg. individual identity, sexuality) or even early onset of an array genetic diseases/disorders (eg. diabetes, obesity, neurological disorders, degenerative diseases). We assay for the very first epigenetic changes that can be detected where gene expression in normal cells get altered to a heritable mis-regulated state, cumulatively leading to a cancer specific epigenome which becomes the precursor to what eventually manifests as a genetic disease which can later be histologically classified as cancer (from stage I to IV). In lieu of discovering drugs that can interfere with these processes, we are also developing Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model system to screen for novel epigenetically active compounds from traditional sources.

Current Projects: 

1) Mapping Bivalent Chromatin in the epigenomes of Cancers and Stem Cells (in collaboration with Johns Hopkins, USA). 

2) Developing a phenotypic assay for Chlamydomonas as a model system for Epigenetics.

3) Molecular mechanisms of Epigenetic changes in Chlamydomonas

4) Discovery of de novo nucleases from Chlamydomonas and its use in epigenetics.

5) Studying evolutionary patterns of Epigenetic proteins and its co-relations with DNA packaging

6) Epigenetics of the latent HIV virus and its reactivation using epigenetic drugs (in collaboration with NIRRH, Mumbai).

Other Useful Lab Links: 

Research Gate for research updates: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Subhojit_Sen

Current Lab Members:
 
Ms Snehal Kaginkar - Junior Project Assistant
Ms Nicole D'Souza - Project Assistant
Ms Pooja Potdar - Project Assistant
Mr Akshay Malwade - CBS Student
Mr Upnishad Sharma - CBS Student
Mr. Akshay K. Hotkar - CBS Student
 
Past Lab Members:
 
Mr Saim Mulla (ACTREC)
Mr Milind Surve (UoM)
Ms Nayana Ramesh (DY Patil)
Ms Shivangi Shinari (UoM)
Ms Jharna Chawda (UoM)

Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory

Laser Spectroscopy of Nuclei Laboratory has been setup with mainly funding received as part of the BRNS Young Scientist Research Award (2012). The focus is on laser spectroscopic studies of nuclei away from the line of stability. The studies undertaken here will have a considerable impact in the understanding of ground state properties of nuclei away from stability. Under this project, instrumentation will be developed to perform in-beam laser spectroscopic measurements for the first time in India. This work is interdisciplinary and involves nuclear physics, atomic spectroscopy, lasers, accelerators and reactors. Techniques that have high sensitivity and resolution would be required in the near future as new nuclei are being produced in increasing numbers at accelerated radioactive ion beam facilities. A high-sensitive fluorescence cell is being developed that enables online measurement of short-lived nuclei produced in small amounts at accelerators using laser spectroscopy and is an important step.

Information on nuclear structure through hyperfine structure (hfs) and isotope shift (IS) studies has been immensely successful in evaluating the ground state properties of nuclei away from stability primarily due to the availability of tunable lasers. The high sensitivity and high resolution of laser spectroscopy give it a unique role in the investigation of ground and isomeric states of these nuclei. The analysis of the optical IS and hfs of radioactive atoms provide a very detailed picture of the nuclear ground state properties such as changes in the mean-square nuclear charge radii and multipole moments. The mean-square nuclear charge radii have no model dependency inherent in its laser spectroscopic experimental evaluation and thus provides a stringent test of any theoretical nucleon-nucleon interaction. The nuclear physics interest in such studies lies in understanding the size and shape evolution as a function of proton and neutron number and in describing or predicting properties of unstable nuclei on the basis of an effective nucleon-nucleon interaction.

Condensed Matter Laboratory

Part of the Condensed Matter Physics Laboratory is an undergraduate teaching lab which is typically aimed for 7th-8th semester Physics students. The experiments set up in the lab expose the students to some routine techniques used in condensed matter and materials research. In addition, the students also get to verify proof of principles of some of the topics studied in their theoretical course of Solid State Physics (I) like X-ray diffraction, temperature dependence of electrical conductivity of metals and semiconductors etc.

Experimental set-ups and related experiments offered:

1. Thin film deposition system

2. Table-top X-Ray Diffractometer

3. Closed-cycle Cryostat

4. High Temperature Furnace

Astronomy Laboratory

An Astronomy laboratory has been set up at CBS. In its initial phase, it has three experiments as follows:

1. Measuring flux of relativistic mu-mesons using a Scintillation Counter – Cerenkov Counter Coincidence telescope :

The instrumentation which is required for this experiment is a scintillator, Cerenkov radiator, Photomultipliers, preamplifiers, post amplifiers, Counter and high voltage unit. Other electronic circuits like threshold discriminators, coincidence circuits are in the form of NIM Modules. A mechanical structure for housing the two detectors has been fabricated in the WRIC workshop.

2. Proportional Counter as x-ray Detector :

This experiment utilizes a proportional counter. A turbo-molecular pump based vacuum cum gas filling line and a P-10 gas cylinder have also been fabricated / procured and connected to the proportional counter. A Multi-Channel Analyzer his used to analyze output signals to construct the energy spectrum. Two radioactive sources (a) Iron-55 (Fe- 55) that emits 5.9 keV mono-energetic x-rays and (b) Cadmium – 109 (Cd-109) that produces 22.2 keV x-ray line have also been received. The proportional counter will be filled with gas mixture of 90% Argon + 10 % Methane (called P-10 Gas) at different pressures and detector characteristics like gas gain, energy resolution etc. and their variation with HV , gas pressure etc will be studied by shining x rays from radioactive sources. Another experiment will be to determine Mass Absorption Coefficient of different elements at specific x-ray energies by measuring absorption of x-rays of known energy.

3. Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride (CZT) Detector based x-ray Spectrometer :

This is a new generation solid state detector that works at temperatures in the range of + 10º C to -20º C by cooling by a thermoelectric cooler. Its energy resolution (R) is superior to that of a PC. Using x-ray lines of different energies its R will be studied at different energies and variation of R with energy will be measured and its dependence on different parameters of CZT will be inferred.

Address

UM-DAE Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences
Health Centre, University of Mumbai,
Vidyanagari Campus, Kalina, Santacruz (East), Mumbai 400098, India.
Phone: 91-22-26524983
Fax: 91-22-26524982
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About Us

CBS was set up by the Department of Atomic Energy and the University of Mumbai in 2007. CBS offers a 5 year integrated MSc program in Basic Sciences, with undergraduate teaching embedded in a postgraduate and research environment, for students who have completed 10+2 schooling or its equivalent.