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Dr. Indulekha C. L. Pillai

Assistant Professor, School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri

Qualification: Ph.D
indulekhacl@am.amrita.edu
Indulekha Pillai
Research Interest: Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology

Bio

Dr. Indulekha Pillai joins Amrita School of Biotechnology in 2016, from Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, USA. Dr. Pillai finished her post-doctoral research at University of California, Los Angeles (2010-2016), where she worked towards understanding how adult cardiac progenitors are involved in cardiac repair process in response to cardiac injury, using mouse genetic lineage tracing, transgenic and knockout mouse models of disease (I C Pillai et al Cell Stem Cell 2016, Nature 2014; 585-590). Dr. Pillai earned her PhD from Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, India (2004-2010). Her PhD work demonstrated the role of notch signalling in the molecular regulation of neuronal sub type specification during embryonic stem cell differentiation (Indulekha et al Cell Mol Life Sci, 2014). In addition, she elucidated the quiescent state of glial progenitors (stromal cells in brain) in homeostatic condition and its activation during adult neurogenesis in rat models of epileptic injury (Indulekha et al Biophys Res Commun 2010). Her current research focuses on cellular and molecular mechanisms of heart injury, fibrosis and regeneration.

Dr. Indulekha Pillai has several International journal publications to her credit and has received many recognitions throughout her academic career. She serves as a reviewer to several international journals in biomedical research. Indulekha Pillai is also a member of the American Heart Association (AHA) and International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

Dr.Indulekha Pillai’s Work as Cover Story in Cell Stem Cell

Cell Stem cell writes: “On the cover: Folk wisdom holds that broken hearts are never quite the same. In time for Valentine’s Day, the February 14 American holiday that celebrates romantic love, Pillai et al. (218–232) offer work that challenges this assertion by examining the cell fate changes that occur during pathological heart calcification. They show that after injury cardiac fibroblasts adopt osteogenic cell-like fates that contribute to heart muscle calcification—but fortunately, inhibitors of bone mineralization can attenuate this process and fix the broken heart. The cover image depicts a red heart symbolizing the injured cardiac muscle surrounded by white stones representing the cardiac fibroblasts undergoing osteogenic differentiation.”

Science writes” Electrical impulses propagate through the heart for proper cardiac function. Heart muscle calcification, which can occur with aging, disease, or injury, blocks electrical conduction, resulting in cardiac pump dysfunction and arrhythmias. By tracing cell lineage, Pillai et al. show that cardiac fibroblasts induce this mineralization and take on an osteoblast cell-like fate. Calcification was reduced in mice by administering a small molecule inhibitor that effectively blocks the bone mineralization enzyme ENPP1. Hence, calcification associated with disease or injury may be prevented by targeting ENPP1 to restore cardiac muscle function.”

Dr. Indulekha Pillai earned her Ph.D. from Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, India (2004-2010). Her doctoral dissertation addressed how the notch signaling regulates neuronal subtype specification during stem cell differentiation (Indulekha et al. Cell Mol Life Sci, 2014). Besides, she elucidated the quiescence, activation, and differentiation of adult neural progenitors during neurogenesis associated with temporal lobe epileptic injury (Indulekha et al. Biophys Res Commun 2010).

After her doctoral thesis, Dr.Indulekha Pillai worked as a research associate at Duke University, Durham, USA, exploring the role of RanBP2 protein in photoreceptor development and degeneration.

Throughout her career, Dr. Pillai received many awards and recognitions and she serves in the editorial and reviewer boards of different journals in her area of expertise. She is also a member of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

Currently, in her lab at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Dr.Pillai is exploring the molecular mechanisms modulating regeneration, fibrosis, and calcification in the heart, using induced pluripotent stem cells, bio-engineering principles, and high-content imaging with an ultimate goal to augment the regeneration of the heart.

Publications

Journal Article

Year : 2021

A Feasibility Trial to Evaluate the Composite Efficacy of Inhaled Nitric Oxide in the Treatment of Covid 19 Pneumonia : Impact on Viral Load and Clinical Outcomes

Cite this Research Publication : Merlin Moni, Thushara Madathil, Dipu T. Sathyapalan, Veena Menon, Georg Gutjahr, Fabia Edathadathil, Sureshkumar, D., Preetha Prasanna, Soumya Jose, Jerome, R., Krishnan, A., Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Dr. Geetha Kumar, Dr. Bipin G. Nair, and Aveek Jayant, “A Feasibility Trial to Evaluate the Composite Efficacy of Inhaled Nitric Oxide in the Treatment of Covid 19 Pneumonia : Impact on Viral Load and Clinical Outcomes”, medRxiv, 2021.

Publisher : medRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Year : 2017

Cardiac Fibroblasts Adopt Osteogenic Fates and Can Be Targeted to Attenuate Pathological Heart Calcification

Cite this Research Publication : Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Shen Li, Milagros Romay, Larry Lam, Yan Lu, Jie Huang, Nathaniel Dillard, Marketa Zemanova, Liudmilla Rubbi, Yibin Wang, Jason Lee, Ming Xia, Owen Liang, Ya-Hong Xie, Matteo Pellegrini, Aldons J. Lusis, and Arjun Deb, “Cardiac Fibroblasts Adopt Osteogenic Fates and Can Be Targeted to Attenuate Pathological Heart Calcification”, Cell Stem Cell, vol. 20, pp. 218 - 232.e5, 2017.

Publisher : Cell Stem Cell,

Year : 2014

Mesenchymal-endothelial transition contributes to cardiac neovascularization.

Cite this Research Publication : Eric Ubil, Jinzhu Duan, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Manuel Rosa-Garrido, Yong Wu, Francesca Bargiacchi, Yan Lu, Seta Stanbouly, Jie Huang, Mauricio Rojas, Thomas M Vondriska, Enrico Stefani, and Arjun Deb, “Mesenchymal-endothelial transition contributes to cardiac neovascularization.”, Nature, vol. 514, no. 7524, pp. 585-90, 2014.

Publisher : Nature

Year : 2014

Mesenchymal–Endothelial Transition Contributes to Cardiac Neovascularisation

Cite this Research Publication : Eric Ubil, Jinzhu Duan, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Manuel Rosa-Garrido, Yong Wu, Francesca Bargiacchi, Yan Lu, Seta Stanbouly, Jie Huang, Mauricio Rojas, Thomas M. Vondriska, Stefani, E., and Arjun Deb, “Mesenchymal–Endothelial Transition Contributes to Cardiac Neovascularisation”, Nature, pp. 585–590, 2014.

Publisher : Nature

Year : 2013

Abstract 14932: Adult Cardiac Fibroblasts Are Not Terminally Differentiated and Possess Mesenchymal Stem Cell Like Properties With Aberrant Differentiation Contributing to Myocardial Calcification

Cite this Research Publication : Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Bhavesh K Ahir, Denny Liu, Eric S Ubil, Jucheng Gong, and Arjun Deb, “Abstract 14932: Adult Cardiac Fibroblasts Are Not Terminally Differentiated and Possess Mesenchymal Stem Cell Like Properties With Aberrant Differentiation Contributing to Myocardial Calcification”, Circulation, vol. 128, no. 22, pp. A14932-A14932, 2013.

Publisher : Circulation

Year : 2013

Distinct and atypical intrinsic and extrinsic cell death pathways between photoreceptor cell types upon specific ablation of Ranbp2 in cone photoreceptors.

Cite this Research Publication : Kyoung-In Cho, Mdemdadul Haque, Jessica Wang, Minzhong Yu, Ying Hao, Sunny Qiu, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Neal S Peachey, and Paulo A. Ferreira, “Distinct and atypical intrinsic and extrinsic cell death pathways between photoreceptor cell types upon specific ablation of Ranbp2 in cone photoreceptors.”, PLoS Genet, vol. 9, no. 6, p. e1003555, 2013.

Publisher : PLoS Genet, Volume 9

Year : 2013

Distinct and Aatypical Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cell Death Pathways between Photoreceptor Cell Types upon Specific Ablation of Ranbp2 in cone Photoreceptors

Cite this Research Publication : Cho K., M. Haque, J. Wang, M. Yu, Y. Hao, S. Qiu, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, N. Peachey, and P.A. Ferreira, “Distinct and Aatypical Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cell Death Pathways between Photoreceptor Cell Types upon Specific Ablation of Ranbp2 in cone Photoreceptors”, PloS Genetics e1003555, vol. 9, no. 6, 2013.

Publisher : PloS Genetics e1003555

Year : 2012

Hes-1 regulates the excitatory fate of neural progenitors through modulation of Tlx3 (HOX11L2) expression.

Cite this Research Publication : Dr. Indulekha C. L. Pillai, TS, D., MS, D., R, S., VA, R., SB, D., A, S., A, G., and J, J., “Hes-1 Regulates the Excitatory fate of Neural Progenitors through Modulation of Tlx3 (HOX11L2) Expression”, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 611-627 , 2012.

Publisher : Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

Year : 2010

Neuronal vs. Glial Fate of Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Neural Progenitors (ES-NPs) is Determined by FGF2/EGF During Proliferation

Cite this Research Publication : Rajendran Sanalkumar, Sasidharan Vidyanand, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, and Jackson James, “Neuronal vs. Glial Fate of Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Neural Progenitors (ES-NPs) is Determined by FGF2/EGF During Proliferation”, Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, vol. 42, pp. 17–27, 2010.

Publisher : Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

Year : 2010

ATF2 maintains a subset of neural progenitors through CBF1/Notch independent Hes-1 expression and synergistically activates the expression of Hes-1 in Notch-dependent neural progenitors.

Cite this Research Publication : Rajendran Sanalkumar, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Thulasi Sheela Divya, Mundackal Sivaraman Divya, Anto Ruby John, Balachandran Vinod, Sasidharan Vidyanand, Balusamy Jagatha, Shalini Venugopal, and Jackson James, “ATF2 maintains a subset of neural progenitors through CBF1/Notch independent Hes-1 expression and synergistically activates the expression of Hes-1 in Notch-dependent neural progenitors.”, J Neurochem, vol. 113, no. 4, pp. 807-18, 2010.

Publisher : J Neurochem

Year : 2010

Seizure induces activation of multiple subtypes of neural progenitors and growth factors in hippocampus with neuronal maturation confined to dentate gyrus.

Cite this Research Publication : Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Rajendran Sanalkumar, Anoopkumar Thekkuveettil, and Jackson James, “Seizure induces activation of multiple subtypes of neural progenitors and growth factors in hippocampus with neuronal maturation confined to dentate gyrus.”, Biochem Biophys Res Commun, vol. 393, no. 4, pp. 864-71, 2010.

Publisher : Biochem Biophys Res Commun

Year : 2010

Seizure Induces Activation of Multiple subtypes of Neural Pogenitors and Growth Factors in Hippocampus with Neuronal Maturation Confined to Dentate Gyrus

Cite this Research Publication : Dr. Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Sanalkumar, R., Thekkuveettil, A., and James, J., “Seizure Induces Activation of Multiple subtypes of Neural Pogenitors and Growth Factors in Hippocampus with Neuronal Maturation Confined to Dentate Gyrus”, Biochem Biophys Res Commun, vol. 393, no. 4, pp. 864-71, 2010.

Publisher : Biochem Biophys Res Commun

Year : 2009

In vitro differentiation of retinal ganglion-like cells from embryonic stem cell derived neural progenitors.

Cite this Research Publication : Balusamy Jagatha, Mundackal S. Divya, Rajendran Sanalkumar, Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Sasidharan Vidyanand, Thulasi S. Divya, Ani V. Das, and Jackson James, “In vitro differentiation of retinal ganglion-like cells from embryonic stem cell derived neural progenitors.”, Biochem Biophys Res Commun, vol. 380, no. 2, pp. 230-5, 2009.

Publisher : Biochem Biophys Res Commun

Thesis

Year : 2010

A Study of hippocampal neurogenesis associated with temporal lobe epilepsy and the role of Notch signaling in transcriptional regulation of Tlx3 a selector gene involved in excitatory versus inhibitory fate specification

Cite this Research Publication : Indulekha C. L. Pillai, “A Study of hippocampal neurogenesis associated with temporal lobe epilepsy and the role of Notch signaling in transcriptional regulation of Tlx3 a selector gene involved in excitatory versus inhibitory fate specification”, 2010.

Publisher : Department of Biotechnology

Qualification
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship: University of California, Los Angeles
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Ph. D.: Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India
  • M. Sc. Biotechnology: University of Kerala
Awards and Recognitions
  • 2020 – Associate Editor, Frontiers in Genetics
  • 2019 – Member, Board of studies, Immunology, University of Calicut, India
  • 2019 – Editorial Board Member, Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine and Systems Medicine
  • 2017 – Ramalingaswami Fellowship from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India
  • 2016 – Science Magazine highlighted (Science 16 December 2016), Indulekha Pillai et al, Cardiac Fibroblasts Adopt Osteogenic Fates and Can Be Targeted to Attenuate Pathological Heart Calcification, Cell Stem Cell,2017,20.2,2017 p218–232.e5
  • 2017 – Cover story of Cell Stem Cell, 2017 issue based on Indulekha Pillai et al, Cell Stem Cell (Indulekha Pillai et al.,2017,20.2,2017 p218–232.e5)
  • 2016 – Post-doctoral Scientist, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, USA, with Dr.Paul Noble, MD and Dianhua Jiang, MD, PhD
  • 2013 – Session chair and Moderator, Cardiac Fibroblast and Remodelling session, Scientific Sessions, American Heart Association, USA
  • 2013 – Post-doctoral fellowship: University of California, Los Angeles, USA with Dr. Arjun Deb, MD
  • 2011 – Post-doctoral Fellowship, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with Dr. Arjun Deb, MD
  • 2011- MR Das Career Award with gold medal and citation, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, India for noted professional achievements as a graduate student
  • 2010 – Research Fellowship, with Dr. Paulo Ferriera, Duke University, USA
  • 2009 – International Travel grant, Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, for presenting my work, “Hes-1 acts as transcriptional repressor of Tlx3, a selector gene in excitatory over inhibitory neural fate determination”, Annual Meeting of Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, USA
  • 2009 – Marie Curie funding (European Union) for my work “Notch signalling regulates the expression of Tlx3, a selector gene in excitatory over inhibitory neural fate determination” in 6th International Stem cell school, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • 2007- Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) -Senior Research fellowship
  • 2004 – National Eligibility Test (NET) for Eligibility for Lectureship in Indian Universities
  • 2004 – Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) -Junior Research fellowship
  • 2004 – Certificate of Merit, Dept. of Biotechnology, University of Kerala for being an outstanding Masters’ student.
  • 2004 – First rank with Gold medal, MSc Biotechnology, University of Kerala
Selected Presentations
  • “Adult Cardiac Fibroblasts Are Not Terminally Differentiated and Possess Mesenchymal Stem Cell like Properties with Aberrant Differentiation Contributing to Myocardial Calcification” American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, Dallas, 2013.
  • “Probing the role(s) of the loss of RAN-Binding Protein-2 (RANBP2) in M-cone Photoreceptors and Sub-populations of brain neurons” ARVO 2011, Florida, 2011.
  • “Hes-1 acts as transcriptional repressor of Tlx3, a selector gene in excitatory over inhibitory neural fate determination”,39th Annual Meeting of Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, 2009.
  • “Notch signaling regulates the expression of Tlx3, a selector gene in excitatory over inhibitory neural fate determination”, 6th international stem cell school in Regenerative medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark, 2009.
  • “Regulation of Tlx3 gene in neural progenitors: Role of Notch signaling”, International symposium, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, INDIA, 2008.
  • “Differentiation of Hippocampal progenitors/astrocytes into Excitatory Neurons during Temporal Lobe Epilepsy”, International symposium, XXIII Annual meeting of Indian Academy of Neurosciences, NIMHANS, Bangalore INDIA, 2005.
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