Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Titas Sengupta, PhD

An organism’s life experiences, such as exposure to bacterial pathogens, can cause sustained changes in its physiology and behavior. How these experiences are encoded in heritable RNA and DNA-associated proteins (called chromatin), and how these in turn affect the physiology of the organism itself and its progeny, are not well understood. Previous research has shown that the roundworm C. elegans can “read” small non-coding RNAs from the pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and learn and teach its progeny to avoid this bacterium. Dr. Sengupta’s [Rebecca Ridley Kry Fellow] research investigates how bacterial small RNAs taken up in the intestine can result in lifelong, multigenerational, and organism-wide changes at the epigenetic (RNA and chromatin) level to regulate brain function and behavior. She will investigate which small RNA and chromatin-associated genes are required for the learned response, where these genes function, and what changes at the epigenetic and gene expression level underlie this response. This will inform principles of epigenetic regulation of gene expression following diverse environmental stimuli, and stimuli within tissue environments, including tumor microenvironments. Dr. Sengupta received her PhD from Yale University and her MS and BS from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research.

Project title: "Investigating bacterial small RNA-mediated regulation of host behavior"
Institution: Princeton University
Named Award: Rebecca Ridley Kry Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Coleen T. Murphy, PhD
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Epigenetics