SKB Lab - where science is fun!


Welcome to Sureshkumar Balasubramanian Lab (SKB Lab). We are in the School of Biological Sciences at the Faculty of Science in Monash University.

     We address a mix of basic questions in the lab to uncover generalizable principles in biology using a variety of models from plants to flies to human cell culture. Some of the key questions that we ask include how plants sense and respond to changes in temperature and what factors govern this response?  How do organisms vary in their response to temperature and adapt? Which are the genes underlying this process? We are interested in revealing the genetic and molecular basis of this variation at a mechanistic level. Our work cuts across traditional boundaries and involves a combination of several disciplines such as genetics, biochemistry, evolution, molecular and computational biology.  

     Another aspect we explore comes from our discovery of a triplet expansion associated genetic defect in plants. Triplet repeat expansions underlie several human genetic diseases . We have uncovered a repeat expansion associated defect in the model plant Arabidopsis and shown that triplet repeat expansions can lead to 24-nt siRNAs, which in turn can lead to epigenetic silencing. We have identified a few key players in this response, which have human orthologues.  Our work has direct relevance to a disease known as Friedreich ataxia, which is the most common genetic ataxia that affects a sizable population. We are  exploring the epigenetic mechanisms mediating triplet expansion induced epigenetic silencing in Friedreich’s ataxia.

     Most of our work involves computational analysis and genomics. In particular, we have an interest in the analysis of splicing. We want to uncover the principles that govern splice site selection in organisms. To address these we use a combination of model organisms such as  Marchantia, Arabidopsis, fruitflies as well as humans. We have developed "SpliSER" - a new tool that allows empirical quantification of splice-site usage from RNA-seq data. We then use this quantification as a phenotype to map genomic determinants of variation in splice-site usage in populations. Our approach allows the determination of determinants of splice site selection and decipher the principles that govern splicing decisions.

     We provide several opportunities for students who are seeking avenues for excellence. We encourage motivated individuals interested in pursuing a research career to contact us for potential funding options.  Monash University offers competitive funding opportunities for international students for pursuing PhD as well as post-doctoral fellowships. In addition, several other funding options exist which may suit individual needs. Feel free to contact us about the possible choices. We take pride in providing challenging opportunities for undergraduate students and we especially welcome undergraduate students in our lab for an excellent start to their research careers. Needless to say that Melbourne is one of the liveliest cities and rated amongst the best cities to live in the world. If you want to experience the best of both worlds Monash may be an option for you.