| Our Faculty

Ramanathan Lab

Principal Investigator

Sharad Ramanathan, Ph.D.

Sharad Ramanathan sitting in front of a chalkboard, laughing

The Ramanathan lab focuses on understanding decision making by cells and organisms. Our research focuses on two distinct areas: (i) how embryonic stem cells make a sequence of developmental decisions to give rise the diversity of cell types in the body, and (ii) how the nervous system makes decisions to control the behavioral states of animals.

Image of Sharad Ramanathan, Ph.D.

Sharad Ramanathan, Ph.D.

  • Llura and Gordon Gund Professor of Neurosciences and of Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Harvard University
  • Professor of Applied Physics and of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
    Harvard University
  • Co-Director
    Quantitative Biology Initiative


Sharad Ramanathan’s research is directed towards answering two questions. How do cells and organisms process signals from their environment to make decisions? How do the underlying circuits make this possible?

To answer these questions he uses a combination of  experimental, computational and theoretical tools. Ramanathan’s experimental work has focuses on different organisms to uncover general principles that underlie decision making.

Ramanathan received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard University and his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He was a member of technical staff in the Theoretical Physics Department at Bell Laboratories before moving back to Harvard. He is currently also a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and of the Applied Physics Division in the John A Paulson School of Engineering.

Lab Overview

Our laboratory focusses studying how multi-potent cells make developmental decisions and how the nervous system makes behavioral decisions.

We ask how multi-potent cells receive and process signals to build correctly patterned complex tissues of the correct size. Further we ask how the underlying signaling pathways and gene regulatory networks evolve to produce novel cell types, and whether we can take advantage of this evolutionary history to re-engineer these networks. Our final goal is to demonstrate our understanding by patterning and building tissues. Our experimental focus is in particular on early human and mouse development.

We ask how nervous systems process environmental signals to determine animal behavior. Our goal is to dissect the nervous system to identify key nodes in the network, and demonstrate our understanding by taking control of the animals behavior by directly manipulating neural activity. Our experimental focus is on the nervous system of the nematode C. elegans.

To achieve our goals we bring together biologists, physicists, bioengineers and computational biologists.

News: We manipulate the Waddington landscape to modulate the developmental decisions of hESCs

Report on the research led by James Valcourt along with our collaborator Bob Kingston and colleagues is on bioRxiv!

Postdoctoral Fellow Opportunities

Our lab is always on the look out excellent postdoctoral fellows. We are currently on the look out for candidates with backgrounds in developmental and computational biology.
Search Menu