Academic Profile : Faculty

Assoc Prof Suresh Jeyaraj Jesuthasan.jpg picture
Assoc Prof Suresh Jeyaraj Jesuthasan
Associate Professor, Behavioural Neuroscience, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Associate Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
House Tutor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine)
Suresh Jesuthasan obtained an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, and a DPhil in Developmental Biology under the guidance of Julian Lewis at Oxford University. He has worked at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany, in the laboratory of Friedrich Bonhoeffer. He is currently Associate Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience in Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, and holds a joint appointment at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore.

Assoc Prof Jesuthasan is internationally recognised for his contributions to the area of early embryonic development, where he provided fundamental insights into symmetry breaking and early cell division. He is also known for his work on fear triggered by an alarm pheromone, and on how brain states are regulated.
Brain State and Behaviour
An animal’s survival depends on its ability to react appropriately to environmental stimuli. The responses can be innate, but can also be modified by experience and internal state (e.g. hunger and time of day). The goal of the lab is to gain insight into how the vertebrate brain generates an optimal response. To do this, A/Prof Jesuthasan and his team use a combination of anatomy, high-resolution functional imaging, genetics, behavioral assays and modelling. Behavior is generated by neural circuits. Connectivity between circuit components is not fixed, but is dynamically regulated by neuromodulators. The major question they are interested in, thus, is how neuromodulator release is controlled based on sensory stimuli and internal states.

Brain State and Behaviour

The Alarm Response
A starting point for experiments is the alarm response. In the 1930’s Karl von Frisch noticed that injury to a European minnow caused a fright reaction in other members of the fish school. He demonstrated that the skin contains substances, termed Schreckstoff, which act via the olfactory system to trigger a state of fear. The fish change their swimming behaviour dramatically - either darting or freezing - in response to this alarm pheromone. Subsequent experiments by other scientists established that many freshwater fish species have this response. All the classical hallmarks of fear, including physiological changes such as increase in blood cortisol levels, can be triggered by Schreckstoff. Current experiments are focused on understanding the biology underlying the alarm response, including the mechanism by which the alarm substance is generated and the neural circuits regulating the behaviour.

Brain State and Behaviour

The habenula
The habenula is an evolutionarily conserved structure that regulates neuromodulator release. It is well placed to control functional connectivity in response to a wide range of variables, as it receives input from all sensory systems, including the olfactory and visual systems, and receives reward information from the basal ganglia. Information from the circadian clock is also channelled to the habenula. The lab uses a combination of imaging and manipulation to investigate how information is processed in the habenula to enable rapid selection of optimal behaviour.

Brain State and Behaviour
  • Development of a genetically-encoded tool for light-mediated control of cellular metabolism
  • Development of a toolkit to characterize signalling via extracellular vesicles in vivo
  • Unravelling how the nervous system interacts with the skin microbiota to make a superorganism
Rhodes Scholar
Lord Crewe Scholar
Jewett Scholar
Fellowships & Other Recognition
Whitman Fellowship
Human Frontiers Long Term Fellowship
EMBO Long Term Fellowship
Courses Taught
Foundations of Medicine (year 1): introduction to Neuroscience
Neuroscience Module (year 2)
Mental Health Module (year 2)

MD7104: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
MD7108 Neural Systems and Behaviour
MSL908 Brain, Behaviour and Cognition
Supervision of PhD Students
Current students:
• King Yee Cheung
• Raghumoy Ghosh
• Yirou Bah
• Sai Yan Pyay Aung
• Philip Ngo