Dr. Anup Padmanabhan is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Ashoka University, Delhi. His work is to understand how cellular shapes change during embryogenesis. He is also a 2024-2025 board member at InSDB. 

Hello, Anup. Let’s start off with the reason behind choosing developmental biology as your field of research.

I did not choose dev bio as my field of research.  Over the years, I just gravitated towards it and now I find myself leading a lab that studies developmental cell biology. While I still work on a few other questions, I found developmental biology to be the most fascinating field. There seems no dearth of interesting phenomena. In our lab, we try to ask fundamental cell biology questions in the context of embryonic development and organ packaging. 

Right now, a lot of students and early career researchers are getting into this field. How do you think the community has changed over the past couple of decades?

This increase in researchers getting into this field is fantastic. Advances in microscopy, the revival of D’arcy Thomson’s ideas on the role of mechanics, CRISPR genome editing, spatiotemporal transcriptomics technologies, and a growing interest in non-model organisms (to name a few) may have contributed wave of interest in Dev bio that you mention. The fact that significant cross-disciplinary participation is going to advance the field of developmental biology makes it a very exciting time to be studying dev bio. 

How can we increase the visibility of this field among the students and the general public? Are there any initiatives that you would like to implement as a board member?

The society will have a big say in shaping the field at multiple levels in India. Since nucleation is the rate-limiting step in most biological processes, maybe we could:

1. Popularise Dev bio – Build Dev bio nodes around established research centers and identify nodal officers (dev biologists). The idea should be to interact with 5 colleges/universities that do not have an active dev bio content in their syllabus.  Give a talk, have a short demo on a microscope, discuss fascinating questions, and also convey how other disciplines are contributing to addressing these questions. 

2. Distribute Dev Bio –  To sustain popularization initiatives, we need to create internship opportunities. A small funding support (for students) would get a lot of institutions excited. This also allows a constant flux of students getting trained in these labs and being exposed (in the case of MSc and BSc) to research questions very early. This early exposure would lead to an increase in graduate applicants in the areas of dev bio.

3. Grow Dev Bio – Networking among current Dev Bio researchers. Institutions also need to attract more PIs working on diverse model systems like plant and microbial models.

4. Celebrate Dev Bio – Keeping the website active helps with this. A vibrant discussion forum is also a good way to keep discussions going.  A newsletter that runs bi-monthly could be a good starting point to keep in touch with the viewers. We could also have various competitions. 

These are all great points. Finally, what do you think are some of the ways in which members get benefitted?

One key reason is embedded in your earlier question.  Developmental biology happens to be one of the most exciting disciplines that is and will attract a lot of talented minds. InSDB is a perfect platform to bring these minds together and one would want to be amidst these talented people.

 If the success of the last InSDB meeting is any measure, then I think the science I learned and the scientists I’ve met would be the second reason why one should become an InSDB member. 

Know more about his work here. You can also connect with him through the website.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Free & Available to all. Subscribe to stay up to date with event, resources and other updates in the field of Development Biology.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.