BBS Faculty Member - Sandeep Datta

Sandeep Datta

Department of Neurobiology

Harvard Medical School
Warren Alpert Building 336
220 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-432-7890
Fax: 617-734-1639
Visit my lab page here.

The goal of our research is to address a core problem in neurobiology — how is the brain wired to extract information from the environment and convert that information into action? Our laboratory seeks to answer this question by studying the mammalian olfactory system, which affords most animals the ability to detect and appropriately respond to crucial environmental cues. The central hypothesis of our laboratory is that the neural circuits recruited by ethologically-relevant odors (such as those from food, predators and mates) are anatomically and genetically stereotyped; we leverage the invariance of this specific type of neural circuit to understand how odor inputs are detected in the sensory periphery, encoded by patterns of coordinated activity in the brain, and then decoded to generate meaningful patterns of action. This research program sits at the intersection of molecular genetics, systems neuroscience and neuroethology, and accordingly we take advantage of an interdisciplinary toolkit including modern techniques — such as functional imaging, optogenetics, and single-cell sequencing — and approaches of our own making — such as multiphoton-guided neural tracing and machine learning-based characterization of mouse body language. Because the olfactory circuits that underlie odor-driven innate behavior do not exist in isolation but as part of a complex neural mechanism capable of associative learning and top-down modulation, we also actively explore how this specific wiring impinges upon (and is influenced by) neural mechanisms that reflect experience and internal state. This work, by design and through serendipity, has important implications for a number of diseases of the brain (including neurodegenerative diseases, motor disorders and autism spectrum disorders); our research on sensorimotor coupling may therefore lead to insight into these serious diseases, as well as other disorders related to behavioral valence and motivation.

Last Update: 10/5/2016


For a complete listing of publications click here.



Greer P, Bear D, Lassance JM, Bloom ML, Tsukahara T, Masuda FK, Nowlan AC, Kirchner R, Hoekstra HE and Datta SR. (2016). A Family of non-GPCR Chemosensors Defines an Alternative Logic for Olfaction. Cell 165:1734-48. PCMID: PMC4912422

Wiltschko AB, Johnson MJ, Iurilli G, Peterson RE, Katon JE, Pashkovski SL, Abraira VE, Adams RP and
Datta SR. (2015). Mapping Sub-second Structure in Mouse Behavior. Neuron 88:1121. PMCID: PMC4708087

Sosulski DL, Lissitsyna MV, Cutforth T, Axel R and
Datta SR. (2011). Distinct Representations of Olfactory Information in Different Cortical Centers. Nature 472: 213-16. PMCID: PMC3354569.

Datta SR, Vasconcelos ML, Ruta V, Luo S, Wong A, Demir E, Flores J, Balonze K, Dickson BJ and Axel R. (2008). The Drosophila pheromone cVA activates a sexually dimorphic neural circuit. Nature 452: 473-7.

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