PhD (Biochemistry), Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science (2007)
Post-Doctoral Fellow (Cell Biology), University of Geneva (2010)
Post-Doctoral Fellow (Proteomics & Cell Biology), University of British Columbia (2015)
Ramanujan Fellow (Cell Biology), Indian Institute of Technology (2016)
Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre
Dr. Syam Somasekharan joined the Vancouver Prostate Centre as a Research Scientist in 2016. Dr. Somasekharan did his PhD in Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science, working on cell signalling mediated by calcium-sensitive kinases under cellular stress. In his first post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Geneva with Prof. Jean-Claude Martinou, he investigated the molecular mechanisms of Bax activation in apoptosis process. This work led to a new mechanism discovery of Bax activation during mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilisation (MOMP) [Cell (2010) 142:889-901], now highly cited in the apoptosis field.
In 2010, Dr. Somasekharan joined Dr. Poul Sorensen’s lab as a post-doctoral fellow to study mRNA translation regulatory research in sarcomas and prostate cancer. During this period, Dr. Somasekharan developed a novel mass spectrometry technology called “Click-SILAC” method, with a combination of SILAC (stable isotope labelling of amino acids in cell culture) and Click Chemistry to identify and quantify newly synthesized proteins [J Proteomics (2012) 77:e1-10]. Click–SILAC has become a popular tool to study protein dynamics in complex biological processes such as signal transduction, cancer biology, and drug discovery.
In 2015, Dr. Somasekharan joined Indian Institute of Technology, Indore as a Ramanujan Faculty Fellow. Dr. Somasekharan was highly successful in that position: Set up an independent RNA biology research lab to study cancer biology and neurodegeneration, hired and guided students for their PhD thesis. He is also a recipient of several national and international awards including Ramalingaswamy and Early Career Research Awards from the Govt. of India.
More recently, Dr. Somasekharan has been studying RNA granules in cancer and neurodegeneration. Dr. Somasekharan demonstrated for the first time in the field the involvement of stress granules in tumour invasion and metastasis [J Cell Biol (2015) 208:913-29]. Dr. Somasekharan also co-authored several other publications in high impact journals, which include Cell (2013) 153:1064-79; Cancer Cell (2015) 27:682-97; and Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2014) 111:3032-7.
Dr. Somasekharan is developing an interdisciplinary research program on RNA-protein stress granule complexes and selective mRNA translation in cancer and neurodegeneration at our centre. Under this research theme, Dr. Somasekharan is developing projects including: research on the relationship between stress granule machinery and prostate cancer stem cell destiny; the role of epitranscriptomic (m6A) RNA-modification and the translational regulation of androgen receptor (AR) mRNA; the biological importance of liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) of intrinsically disordered proteins - G3BP1, FMRP and YTHDF3- and RNA in cancer and neurodegeneration; and mass spectrometry and RNA sequencing to profile RNA granules and to understand selective mRNA translation in tumour cells exposed to oxidative stress. With sincere motivation and a strong scientific collaborative attitude, Dr. Somasekharan is engaged to fight prostate cancer and neurodegeneration.
Recently Dr. Somasekharan has published four manuscripts from the Vancouver Prostate Centre: Nucleic Acids Res. (2020) 48: 6855-6873; Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. (2019) 26: 110-120; EMBO Reports (2019) 20: e48375; and Sci Reports (2019) 9: 1-13.