Sharmila Venugopal


phone:  (310) 206-6636

office:  4214A Life Sciences


research interests:  Computational Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, Neural Engineering, Undergraduate STEM Education


B.E., Electrical And Electronics Engineering, Bangalore University 1999
M.S., Electrical Engineering, The Ohio State University 2004
Ph.D., Neuroscience, The Ohio State University 2008

Research Interests

Our nervous system is a highly parallel high-performance computing network with trillions of connections called synapses and billions of processing elements called neurons supported by trillions of glial cells. My research focuses on developing theories of workings of this complex system in health and disease by examining the structure, function and molecular basis. We use interdisciplinary approaches including electrophysiology, mathematical modeling and simulations, bio-hybrid systems and also collaborate with molecular biologists and clinical scientists. We are currently focusing on developing mechanistic understanding of disease dynamics in progressive neurodegenerative motor neuron disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (or ALS). Our results have begun to shed light on how the disease alters motor neuron physiology at pre-symptomatic stages and may lead to the development of muscle dysfunction. We are now seeking to develop a dynamic longitudinal map of electrophysiological and molecular changes in vulnerable brainstem sensorimotor circuits to help identify early biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Along the way, we wish to make significant discoveries answering intriguing questions on selectivity and vulnerability in disease with broader implications to suggest strategies for disease management.

Selected Publications

R Srinivasan*, BS Huang*, S Venugopal, AD Johnston, H Chai, H Zeng, P Golshani & BS Khakh, "Ca2+ signaling in astrocytes from IP3R2-/- mice in brain slices and during startle responses in vivo", Nature Neuroscience, 18 : 708-717 (2015) .

S Venugopal, CF Hsiao, T Sonoda, M Wiedau-Pazos & SH Chandler, "Homeostatic dysregulation in membrane properties of masticatory motoneurons compared to oculomotor neurons in a mouse model for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis", Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (2): 707-720 (2015) .

S Venugopal, "Models of motoneurons and neuromuscular systems: Overview", Springer Encyclopedia for Computational Neuroscience, 1- (2014) .

S Venugopal, "Conductance-based models of nonlinear dynamics in vertebrate motoneurons", Encyclopedia for Computational Neuroscience, 1-6 (2014) .

S Venugopal, "Brainstem networks for central pattern generation", Encyclopedia for Computational Neuroscience, 1-4 (2014) .

S Venugopal, TM Hamm & R Jung, "Differential contributions of somatic and dendritic calcium-dependent potassium currents to the control of motoneuron excitability following spinal cord injury", Cognitive Neurodynamics, 6 (3): 283-293 (2012) .

S Venugopal, S Crook, M Srivatsan & R Jung, "Principles of Computational Neuroscience", In: Biohybrid Systems ? Nerves, Interfaces and Machines, 11-30 (2011) .

S Venugopal, TM Hamm, SM Crook & R Jung, "Modulation of inhibitory strength and kinetics facilitates regulation of persistent inward currents and motoneuron excitability following spinal cord injury", Journal of Neurophysiology, 106 : 2167-2179 (2011) .

S Venugopal, JA Boulant, Z Chen & JB Travers, "Intrinsic membrane properties of pre-oromotor neurons in the intermediate zone of the medullary reticular formation", Neuroscience, 168 (1): 31-47 (2010) .

J Nasse, DH Terman, S Venugopal, G Hermann, R Rogers & JB Travers, "Local circuit input to the medullary reticular formation from the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract", American Journal of Physiology, 295 (5): 1391-1408 (2008) .