Principal Investigator

Baron Chanda, Ph.D.

Dr. Baron Chanda’s primary research interest is to understand the mechanisms of electrical signaling by membrane proteins such as ion channels. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry from the University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Biotechnology (Biophysics specialization) from the University of Pune, India. He obtained his Ph.D. at the National Center for Biological Sciences in India where he gained expertise in membrane protein biochemistry, fluorescence spectroscopy, and basic electrophysiology. In 2000, he moved to the University of California, Los Angeles to conduct postdoctoral research with Dr. Francisco Bezanilla. During this time, he did foundational work on mechanisms of gating of sodium and potassium channels using the newly developed voltage-clamp fluorometry. In the fall of 2006, he joined the Department of Physiology (now Neuroscience) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. In 2015, he was jointly appointed as a professor in the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry. As of late spring 2020, he joined Washington University School of Medicine as a Professor of Anesthesiology and has secondary appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Neuroscience. While his scientific approach is rooted in reductionism, Chanda’s long-term interest is to gain a comprehensive understanding of ion channel function in a physiological context. Throughout his scientific career, he has also been actively involved in either developing or adopting new technologies to study mechanistic underpinnings of ion channel function.

bchanda (at) wustl.edu | 314-273-6811 | Twitter: @ChandaLab06

Lab Manager

Theresa Harter

harter (at) wustl.edu

Senior Scientist

Yongchang Chang, M.D., Ph.D.

Yongchang received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1998. He studied structure-function relationship of the pentameric ligand-gated ion channels for many years before joining Dr. Chanda’s lab in 2020 as a senior scientist. His current main project is to optimize conditions to generate large amounts of stable proteins for spHCN (HCN from sea urchin) for structural determination by cryo-EM. He is also involved in projects for chimera design and construction between different subfamily members for studying the gating mechanisms of HCN.

yongchang (at) wustl.edu

Postdoctoral Researchers

Willy Carrasquel-Ursuleaz, Ph.D.

Willy graduated from the Central University of Venezuela with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neuroscience of Valparaíso (University of Valparaíso, Chile). During his PhD, Willy studied the biophysics of the BK channels and its interaction with accessory subunit γ1 in the Latorre lab. Willy joined the Chanda lab as a postdoc in the 2018 fall. His primary research interest is to overcome the current limitations of optogenetic techniques and develop an all-optical electrophysiology that is minimally invasive. In addition, he is exploring the voltage sensing mechanism of the HCN channels.

carrasquel (at) wustl.edu

Vinay Idikuda, Ph.D.

Vinay graduated from Osmania University with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 2010. He received his PhD in Neuroscience from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018. During his PhD, he studied ligand binding in HCN channels using patch clamp fluorometry in Dr. Lei Zhou’s lab. Vinay joined the Chanda lab in 2019 to further his interests in ion channels and membrane proteins. Currently, he is investigating the temperature sensitivity in calcium activated potassium channels. Outside the lab, Vinay enjoys hiking, playing badminton, and tennis.

idikuda (at) wustl.edu

John Cowgill, Ph.D.

John graduated from UW-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in 2010. He received a Masters in Biochemistry from ASU in 2012 studying the biophysics of Type-I photosynthetic reaction centers in Dr. Kevin Redding’s lab. In Fall 2014, John joined Dr. Chanda’s lab and received his PhD in Biophysics from UW-Madison in Summer 2020. His primary research interests include examining the different mechanisms of coupling sensing domains (temperature, voltage, and ligand) to pore domains in various voltage gated channels. He uses a combination of sequence and structural analysis to guide experimental design. Outside the lab, John likes playing ultimate frisbee, fishing, and taking his dog to the park.

john.c (at) wustl.edu

Verena Burtscher, Ph.D.

bverena (at) wustl.edu

Graduate Student

Jenna Lin

Jenna graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a B.S. in Bioengineering and a minor in Biological Sciences in Spring 2018. At Mizzou, she was in Drs. Lorin and Mirela Milescu labs where she developed a great interest in ion channels, electrophysiology, and neuroscience. In Fall 2018, she joined the Biophysics Graduate Program at UW-Madison, and joined Dr. Chanda’s lab the following winter. When the Chanda lab moved to WashU, Jenna moved with the lab and joined the Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology Program at WashU in Fall 2020. She enjoys taking an interdisciplinary approach to problems and combining science and engineering. Currently, Jenna is interested in understanding the relationship between the architecture and function of ion channels via evolutionary approaches such as ancestral sequence reconstruction. Outside of the lab, Jenna enjoys playing piano, hiking, and cooking.

jllin (at) wustl.edu

Research Technician

Ram Rallapalli

ramr (at) wustl.edu

Undergraduate Student

Brian Lu

Brian is an undergraduate student at WashU studying Chemistry: Biochemistry concentration with a minor in Anthropology: Global Health and Environment. He joined the Chanda Lab in 2021 and has an interest in ion channels and anesthesiology. Outside of the lab, Brian is part of an a cappella group at WashU and has recently picked up baking.

brianlu (at) wustl.edu