Visitor of the Week: Sunil Bhattarai


Meet Sunil Bhattarai of the Neuroscience Institute at Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Medical Center. A postdoctoral researcher in the Laboratory for Stroke Research and Noncoding RNA Biology led by Ashutosh Dharap, Sunil is on campus for the 2018 Regulatory & Non-Coding RNAs meeting. It is his first meeting at the Laboratory and he commemorated it with by presenting a poster entitled “Expression of LncRNAs in post-ischemic mouse cortex”.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am exploring the roles long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) plays during ischemia. We recently reported hundreds of new lncRNA in a post-ischemic mouse brain, and are now attempting to understand the functional roles of lncRNA in post ischemic brain.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
My interest towards neural disorder and neuroscience led me to this work where the overarching role is to find the long non-coding RNA mediated neuroprotective therapy in a post-stroke brain. 

How did your scientific journey begin? 
The major event that really piqued my interest in science was a spinal cord injury suffered   by one of my family members. This was when I first realized the difference in regeneration capability of neurons in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. This incident eventually led me to join a lab studying neural injury and regeneration. 

Was there something specific about Regulatory & Non-Coding RNAs meeting that drew you to attend?
I was drawn by the opportunity to meet the people  working exclusively in the RNA field. I met and spoke with one of the meeting speakers, Dr. Angela K. Cruz from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil who is also studying long non-coding RNAs. We discussed our research and shared ideas on a way to probe functional roles of long non-coding RNAs. We exchanged e-mails and will definitely be in touch to continue discussing our work.

What is your key takeaway from the meeting?
One of the key takeaways from the meeting is how tricky and difficult long non-coding RNA can be to work with.

What did you pick up or learn from the meeting that you plan to apply to your work?  
I had the opportunity to meet people doing similar work and learned about the technique you can use to study the nuclear organization in space in a high-throughput manner.

If someone curious in attending a future iteration of this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would definitely encourage anyone to attend the meeting here in CSHL. Unlike some other big meetings that I have been to, the attendees here are closely knit so you are more likely to interact and have an opportunity to collaborate with them. Additionally, you are more likely to get a thorough look at the work in the field and possibly identify the next place or lab you might be interested to work. Furthermore, it is compelling to attend a meeting in a place fertile in scientific discoveries and achievements. 

How many CSHL meetings have you attended?
This is my first CSHL meeting, and I will be definitely attending others in the future.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The ability to meet and make contacts with colleagues working in my field ; and I had the chance to talk with one of the eminent people in the field: Dr. Samie Jaffrey. Although my work is not directly related to the work being done in his lab, it was great to converse with him, get his advice on career development, and listen to his insights about the RNA field. 

Thank you to Sunil for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.

Photograph provided by Sunil Bhattarai