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Ramesh Chandra, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Anatomy and Neurobiology


HSF II, S214

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-3309

Education and Training

  • 1999 B.S., Biology, Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University, Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • 2001 M.S., Zoology, Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University, Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • 2010 Ph.D.,  Zoology, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India collaborated with Central Drug Research Insitute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. Thesis Advisor- Dr. Sunil Kumar Puri, Ph.D., “Chemotherapeutic and Biochemical Studies with Arteether Resistant Plasmodium vinckei: A Rodent Malaria Parasite”
  • 2009-2010  Postdoctoral Fellow, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • 2010-2011   Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • 2011-2015   Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD


I am committed to a career studying the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms of psychiatric disease with a focus on depression and addiction. I have a broad background in psychology, with specific training and expertise in molecular and behavioral aspects of drug addiction and depression. I joined Dr. Lobo’s lab as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in July 2012 to utilize my extensive molecular biology skills in the field of Neuroscience. I have been  a  key  investigator  identifying  the crucial  pathways  that  determine  the  important  role  of  ventral  striatum  (also  known  as Nucleus Accumbens- NAc) in drug addiction and depression. Using preclinical mouse models of depression and drug abuse, I am working toward translational studies to uncover novel molecular targets and brain circuits that can be targeted for antidepressant and anti-addiction therapies. To this end, I have adapted novel cell type-specific transcriptome techniques to isolate mRNA from nucleus accumbens MSN subtypes in rodent models of drug abuse and depression. I have adapted virus based genetic manipulation, pharmacological, and optogenetics to behavioral models to identify molecular targets mediating behavioral responses to cocaine in NAc neuron subtypes. Specifically my work has uncovered a novel and opposing role for the transcription factor, Egr3, in mediating behavioral responses to cocaine through NAc neuron subtypes. Beyond these studies, I found that Egr3 transcriptionally regulates mitochondrial nuclear genes leading me to identify a role for PGC1-alpha, a transcriptional co activator genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics, in behavioral responses to cocaine.  This has prompted me to further investigate mitochondrial dynamics and corresponding molecular mechanisms in NAc neuron subtypes in cocaine abuse.  I am further investigating these mitochondrial changes in a mouse model of depression through funds from a 2015 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Research/Clinical Keywords

addiction, depression, optogenetics, striatum, nucleus accumbens, neuron subtypes, epigenetics

Highlighted Publications

  • Francis TC, Chandra R, Gaynor A, Konkalmatt P, Metzbower S, Evans B, Engeln M, Blanpied T, Lobo MK (2017) Molecular basis of dendritic atrophy and activity in stress susceptibility. Molecular Psychiatry. 8:645-653.
  • Chandra R, Francis TC, Nam H, Riggs LM, Engeln M, Rudzinskas S, Konkalmatt P, Russo SJ, Turecki G, Iñiguez S, Lobo MK (2017) Reduced Slc6a15 in nucleus accumbens D2-neurons underlies stress susceptibility. The Journal of Neuroscience. 3250-16
  • Förstera B, Muñoz B, Lobo MK, Chandra R, Lovinger DM, Aguayo LG (2017) Presence of ethanol sensitive glycine receptors in medium spiny neurons in the mouse nucleus accumbens. The Journal of PhysiologyDOI: 10.1113/JP273767
  • Castro A, Li Y, Raver C, Chandra R, Masri R, Lobo MK, Keller A. (2017) Neuropathic pain after chronic nerve constriction may not correlate with chloride dysregulation in mouse trigeminal nucleus caudalis neurons. PAIN. DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000926
  • Chandra R, Engeln M, Francis TC, Konkalmatt P, Patel D, Lobo MK. (2017) A Role for Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator-1α in Nucleus Accumbens Neuron Subtypes in Cocaine Action. Biological psychiatry. 81(7):564-572. NIHMSID: NIHMS826239
  • Creed M, Ntamati NR, Chandra R, Lobo MK, Lüscher C. (2016) Convergence of Reinforcing and Anhedonic Cocaine Effects in the Ventral Pallidum. Neuron 92(1):214-226.
  • Damez-Werno DM, Sun H, Scobie KN, Shao N, Rabkin J, Dias C, Calipari ES, Maze I, Pena CJ, Walker DM, Cahill ME, Chandra R, Gancarz A, Mouzon E, Landry JA, Cates H, Lobo MK, Dietz D, Allis CD, Guccione E, Turecki G, Defilippi P, Neve RL, Hurd YL, Shen L, Nestler EJ. (2016) Histone arginine methylation in cocaine action in the nucleus accumbens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113(34):9623-8.
  • Chandra R, Francis TC, Konkalmatt P, Amgalan A, Gancarz AM, Dietz DM, Lobo MK. (2015) Opposing role for Egr3 in nucleus accumbens cell subtypes in cocaine action. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 35(20):7927-37.
  • Chandra R, Puri SK. (2015) Arteether resistance reversal by ketoconazole/fluconazole in rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium vinckei. Parasitology research. 114(3):1239-43.
  • Francis TC, Chandra R, Friend DM, Finkel E, Dayrit G, Miranda J, Brooks JM, Iñiguez SD, O'Donnell P, Kravitz A, Lobo MK. (2015) Nucleus accumbens medium spiny neuron subtypes mediate depression-related outcomes to social defeat stress. Biological psychiatry. 77(3):212-22.
  • Lobo MK, Zaman S, Damez-Werno DM, Koo JW, Bagot RC, DiNieri JA, Nugent A, Finkel E, Chaudhury D, Chandra R, Riberio E, Rabkin J, Mouzon E, Cachope R, Cheer JF, Han MH, Dietz DM, Self DW, Hurd YL, Vialou V, Nestler EJ. (2013) ΔFosB induction in striatal medium spiny neuron subtypes in response to chronic pharmacological, emotional, and optogenetic stimuli. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 33(47):18381-95.
  • Chandra R*, Lenz JD*, Gancarz AM, Chaudhury D, Schroeder GL, Han MH, Cheer JF, Dietz DM, Lobo MK. (2013) Optogenetic inhibition of D1R containing nucleus accumbens neurons alters cocaine-mediated regulation of Tiam1. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience. 6:13.

Awards and Affiliations

2015-                NARSAD Young Investigator Award

2015- Present   Consulting Editor, Advances in Genomics and Genetics

2006-2009        Senior Research Fellowship from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi

2004-2006        Junior Research Fellowship (F.NO. 10-2(5) 2003(I)-EU.II) from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi



Grants and Contracts

NARSAD Young Investigator Award (PI)                            01/01/16-12/31/17

Cell Subtype Molecular Mechanisms of Mitochondria Dynamics in Depression” from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation”

The goal of this study is to examine mitochondrial biogenesis and function genes in NAc neurons subtypes of susceptible and resilient mice after chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) model.  We also genetically manipulate Pgc1α levels in D1-MSNs and D2-MSNs during social defeat stress (SDS).