The Shanta Wadhwani Centre for Cardiac and Neural Research (SWCCNR) at inStem focuses on addressing major problems in cardiac biology and neurodevelopmental biology.

The Centre was established in January 2012 and is generously supported by a philanthropic grant from the Wadhwani Foundation. The Centre’s broad goal is to support research aimed at understanding regenerative mechanisms operating at the cellular and molecular level in the brain and heart. There are two research programs that operate under the Wadhwani Centre: the Centre for Brain Development and Repair and the program in Cardiovascular Biology and Disease.

Building on 5 years of catalytic funding from the Wadhwani Foundation, the Center for Brain Development and Repair (CBDR) has fostered a vibrant international partnership between inStem, NCBS and University of Edinburgh and is focused on understanding the cause, consequence and, finally, treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Intellectual Disability (ID). The Center is headed by Prof Sumantra Chattarji, from NCBS with Profs. Siddharthan Chandran and Peter Kind, from the University of Edinburgh serving as Associate Directors. The current  overarching aims of the center revolve around 1) modelling human ASDs “in a dish” for discovery and testing platform, using patient derived induced pluripotent stem cells to derive neuronal and glial cells; 2) undertaking the world’s first parallel comparative characterization of  nine rat models of ASD to test convergence of developmental and cellular phenotypes of ASD and ID and 3) to adapt experimental data generated from former two aims to develop more accurate computational models of synaptic function.

CBDR has developed a team of more than 30 personnel across different expertise levels in several fields of neurobiology. Training of these individuals, including technicians, junior research fellows, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows was greatly enabled by generous support from the Wadhwani Foundation over the past several years.  A key feature of CBDR is that team members for all projects are derived both from Bangalore and Edinburgh. Thus it is crucial that teams have active bilateral exchanges, reciprocal visits and combined annual retreats. The Wadhwani foundation support was indispensable in establishing this. With the support of the Wadhwani foundation, team leaders and key personnel have published several manuscripts and given presentations at reputed international meetings. 

List of Publications enabled by SWCCNR
• Chattarji S, Tomar A, Suvrathan A, Ghosh S, Rahman MM. Neighborhood matters: divergent patterns of stress- induced plasticity across the brain. Nat Neurosci. 2015 Oct;18(10):1364-75. doi: 10.1038/nn.4115
• Yasmin F, Saxena K, McEwen BS, Chattarji S. The delayed strengthening of synaptic connectivity in the amygdala depends on NMDA receptor activation during acute stress. Physiol Rep. 2016 Oct;4(20). pii: e13002
• Till SM, Asiminas A, Jackson AD, Katsanevaki D, Barnes SA, Osterweil EK, Bear MF, Chattarji S, Wood ER, Wyllie DJ, Kind PC. Conserved hippocampal cellular pathophysiology but distinct behavioural deficits in a new rat model of FXS. Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Nov 1;24(21):5977-84. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddv299.
• Bowling H, Bhattacharya A, Klann E, Chao MV. Deconstructing brain-derived neurotrophic factor actions in adult brain circuits to bridge an existing informational gap in neuro-cell biology. Neural Regen Res. 2016 Mar;11(3):363-7. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.179031.

List of meetings and visits supported by the SWCCNR:
• Annual retreat meetings 2015 and 2016 at Bangalore
• Training and stay at Edinburgh between 2015-16 of six personnel (Vijaylakshmi Nalavadi, Reena Rathod, Rakhi Pal, Rashmi Jejurikar, Bharath Kumar Reddy and Krishna Kumar S).
• Regular visits of Director and Associate Directors to CBDR and also to international conferences including Gordon Research Conference, Simons Foundation, British Neuroscience Association, International Brain Research Organization, Society for Neuroscience.

For more information click here.



CBDR Team Members at the Annual Retreat held in Bangalore in Oct 2015.





Electrophysiology space at CBDR.




Inherited heart diseases (cardiomyopathies) affect a large section of the population and are a major public health issue. Genetic testing and understanding of these diseases is needed to effectively treat cardiac disease. The Cardiovascular Biology and Disease program at the Wadhwani Centre focuses its research on inherited mutations that affect the mechanical unit of heart muscle, the sarcomere. Using cutting-edge technologies, this program will also focus on identifying small molecule treatments for mechanisms affected by single or a small group of mutations. The project is headed by 2012 Lasker prize awardee, Dr James Spudich, the Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor of Cardiovascular Disease at Stanford University. The strong collaborative spirit of research at inStem is reflected in this program, which draws its faculty from across the world. Currently, research is focused on comprehensive analyses of the sarcomeric proteins (actin, myosin, troponins, tropomyosin) that make up the contractile machinery of the muscle cell. Cardiac function will be analyzed at the biochemical, biophysical, cellular and finally whole-animal levels in a bid to fully understand the mechanisms underlying disease. For more information about the program click here.

Mr Romesh Wadhwani (extreme left) inaugurates the SWCCNR at inStem