Vikas Bhandawat

Assistant Professor of Biology

Office: 
225 Biological Sciences Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
90338
Phone: 
(919) 684-1703

Lab Site: http://biology.duke.edu/bhandawatlab/

Research Interests: 

THE GOAL: A major goal in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits represent sensory information or guide behavior. Because of the complexity of our nervous system it is often difficult to pinpoint the neurons that participate in a given task. Our overall aim is to map out “complete circuits” underlying simple and complex behaviors and understand neural computations with a knowledge of this complete circuit in hand. APPROACH: We will focus on the relatively simple brain of Drosophila to attack this problem. The fly’s brain can perform a surprisingly diverse array of behaviors with relatively few neurons (~100000). In particular, the olfactory circuit of Drosophila is uniquely appropriate for studying this question because its anatomical organization makes it possible to quantify the pool of neurons activated by a given stimulus. This anatomical simplification occurs because for each odorant receptor gene (there are ~50 in flies), there is an identifiable first-order neuron and an identifiable second-order neuron.We have a nearly complete picture of odor representation at the level of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Basic principles underlying the transformation of odor responses from ORNs-to-PNs are also understood. Because of this groundwork, odors (stimuli) can readily be mapped onto patterns of ORNs and PNs. TECHNIQUES: We use single-cell recordings from neurons in the fly brain to understand neural computations. We have also developed behavioral paradigms to make quantitative assessment of flies’ behavioral output. We will complement these relatively new techniques with molecular genetics in the fly.

THE GOAL: A major goal in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits represent sensory information or guide behavior. Because of the complexity of our nervous system it is often difficult to pinpoint the neurons that participate in a given task. Our overall aim is to map out “complete circuits” underlying simple and complex behaviors and understand neural computations with a knowledge of this complete circuit in hand. APPROACH: We will focus on the relatively simple brain of Drosophila to attack this problem. The fly’s brain can perform a surprisingly diverse array of behaviors with relatively few neurons (~100000). In particular, the olfactory circuit of Drosophila is uniquely appropriate for studying this question because its anatomical organization makes it possible to quantify the pool of neurons activated by a given stimulus. This anatomical simplification occurs because for each odorant receptor gene (there are ~50 in flies), there is an identifiable first-order neuron and an identifiable second-order neuron.We have a nearly complete picture of odor representation at the level of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Basic principles underlying the transformation of odor responses from ORNs-to-PNs are also understood. Because of this groundwork, odors (stimuli) can readily be mapped onto patterns of ORNs and PNs. TECHNIQUES: We use single-cell recordings from neurons in the fly brain to understand neural computations. We have also developed behavioral paradigms to make quantitative assessment of flies’ behavioral output. We will complement these relatively new techniques with molecular genetics in the fly.

Education

  • PhD 2005, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

  • Ph.D. 2004, Johns Hopkins University

  • M.S. in Chemistry 1999, Indian Institute of Technology

Papers Published

Organization of descending neurons in Drosophila melanogaster., 2, 2016
Hsu, CT; Bhandawat, V, Scientific Reports. 6 pp. 20259

Activity in descending dopaminergic neurons represents but is not required for leg movements in the fruit fly Drosophila., 3, 2015
Tschida, K; Bhandawat, V, Physiological Reports. 3 vol. (3);

Odor-identity dependent motor programs underlie behavioral responses to odors, 10, 2015
Jung, SH; Hueston, C; Bhandawat, V, eLife. 4 vol. (OCTOBER2015);

Divisive normalization in olfactory population codes., 4, 2010
Olsen, SR; Bhandawat, V; Wilson, RI, Neuron. 66 vol. (2); pp. 287-299

Olfactory modulation of flight in Drosophila is sensitive, selective and rapid., 11, 2010
Bhandawat, V; Maimon, G; Dickinson, MH; Wilson, RI, J Exp Biol. 213 vol. (Pt 21); pp. 3625-3635

Signaling by olfactory receptor neurons near threshold., 10, 2010
V Bhandawat, J Reisert, KW Yau, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107 vol. (43); pp. 18682-7

Signaling by olfactory receptor neurons near threshold., 10, 2010
Bhandawat, V; Reisert, J; Yau, K-W, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107 vol. (43); pp. 18682-18687

Functional properties of synaptic transmission in primary sense organs., 10, 2009
Singer, JH; Glowatzki, E; Moser, T; Strowbridge, BW; Bhandawat, V; Sampath, AP, The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 29 vol. (41); pp. 12802-12806

Sensory processing in the Drosophila antennal lobe increases reliability and separability of ensemble odor representations., 11, 2007
Bhandawat, V; Olsen, SR; Gouwens, NW; Schlief, ML; Wilson, RI, Nature Neuroscience. 10 vol. (11); pp. 1474-1482

Excitatory Interactions between Olfactory Processing Channels in the Drosophila Antennal Lobe (DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2007.03.010), 0, 2007
Olsen, SR; Bhandawat, V; Wilson, RI, Neuron. 54 vol. (4); pp. 667-

Elementary response of olfactory receptor neurons to odorants., 6, 2005
Bhandawat, V; Reisert, J; Yau, K-W, Science. 308 vol. (5730); pp. 1931-1934

Cell signaling: Elementary response of olfactory receptor neurons to odorants, 0, 2005
Bhandawat, V; Reisert, J; Yau, K-W, Science. 308 vol. (5730); pp. 1931-1934