Arupratan Das, PhD, is passionate about understanding diseases at a single cell level. That passion drives the research done in his lab at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute.
Dr. Das focuses on understanding neurodegeneration mechanisms using human stem cell derived neurons in the area of optic neuropathies, particularly glaucoma. In particular, understanding mitochondrial quality control pathway in stem cell derived retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and associated abnormalities in the mutant cells. He uses CRISPR/Cas9 based gene-editing techniques to introduce mutation in the stem cells followed by differentiation to RGCs and other neurons for disease modeling and comparing mutational effects in different neurons. This approach can be applied to understand cell death mechanisms for other neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease and cerebral cortical neurodegeneration. He uses cell biology, cutting-edge imaging, molecular biology and biochemical techniques to identify the defects and develop therapeutic strategy.
Dr. Das joined the ophthalmology department in November, 2019 after having worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University with Dr. Donald J. Zack. Working with Dr. Zack, he discovered role of proteasomal and endo-lysosomal pathways in maintaining healthy mitochondria in human stem cell derived RGCs and identified endo-lysosomal pathway as essential for mitochondrial maintenance and RGC survival.
He began his education in India, graduating from Calcutta University with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry before coming to America to pursue his doctorate and begin his research. He received his PhD degree from Stowers Institute for Medical Research, USA in affiliation with the Open University (UK) under the mentorship of Dr. Rong Li in the area of cell polarity. His PhD work resulted in several seminal discoveries, including the discovery of role of lipid-flippase proteins in maintaining cell polarity (Nature Cell Biology, 2012). He extended his cell biology training as a postdoctoral fellow at NIH with Dr. Clare Waterman. With Dr. Waterman he discovered the properties of actin cytoskeleton and acto-myosin contractility in regulating Hippo signaling pathway (JBC, 2016). Hippo signaling pathway is key to organ development and cancer. To understand disease at a single cell level, Dr. Das joined Dr. Zack’s lab at Hopkins, where he became an expert on human stem cell and stem cell differentiation-based disease modeling research.
Dr. Das’ lab is funded by the K99/R00 grant from NIH/NEI and generous start-up package from the department of Ophthalmology.
Dr. Das’ research is highly collaborative and multi-disciplinary and he is very much open for collaboration. Those interested in joining the Das Lab or collaborating should contact Das by email.