Raaj Gowrishankar

Raaj Gowrishankar

My name is Raaj Gowrishankar and I am from a coastal city in the South of India called Chennai.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from SASTRA University, India and a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Florida.  I entered Vanderbilt through the IGP in Biomedical Sciences.

Beginning the summer of 2012, I have joined Randy Blakely’s lab in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. My work will employ molecular, biochemical and physiological techniques to elucidate dopamine transporter function with the use of rare ADHD dopamine transporter coding variants isolated from patients. Dopamine is a critical neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain involved in important functions such as motivation and reward and a disruption in its signaling has been shown to be an important feature in neurodevelopmental (like ADHD) and psychotic disorders. Hence a study of the dopamine transporter, being the gateway into the dopaminergic realm of the brain, would help answer key questions pertaining to disturbances in dopaminergic signaling in diseased states.

Nashville is a small, progressive and vibrant city with something fun to do every single day of the week.  Nashville is also Music City, U.S.A and having a deep interest in music, I hope to pursue my musical interests as well in the coming years.



Mergy MA, Gowrishankar R, Gresch PJ, Gantz SC, Williams J, Davis GL, Wheeler CA, Stanwood GD, Hahn MK, Blakely RD. The rare DAT coding variant Val559 perturbs DA neuron function, changes behavior, and alters in vivo responses to psychostimulants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 4;111(44):E4779-88. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417294111. Epub 2014 Oct 20.

Byun, N. E. et al. Antipsychotic Drug-Like Effects of the Selective M Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulator VU0152100. Neuropsychoparmacology, doi:10.1038/npp.2014.2 (2014)

Gowrishankar, R., Hahn, M. K. & Blakely, R. D. Good riddance to dopamine: Roles for the dopamine transporter in synaptic function and dopamine-associated brain disorders. Neurochem Int, doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2013.10.016 (2013)

Mergy, M. A. et al. Genetic targeting of the amphetamine and methylphenidate-sensitive dopamine transporter: On the path to an animal model of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neurochem Int, doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2013.11.009 (2013)


Awards and Honors:

Raaj is Vanderbilt Brain Institute Scholar and will be receiving funding for his 3rd and 4th years from the VBI.

Best Poster Award by a graduate student at the Miami Winter Symposium, 2014