Mala Misra

Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., University of Virginia, 2003; Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2009


I’m interested in how neurons, the cells that make up the nervous system, grow into their unique shapes. This is an important question with relevance to human health because many neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders are characterized in part by changes in neuron shape, and these changes are thought to contribute directly to disordered neurological function. Therefore, understanding how neurons grow is an important step toward developing effective therapies.

To study the genetic controls that govern neuron shape, I use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Fruit flies are a powerful experimental tool for geneticists because we can alter their genes and study the effects. At present, I am working toward understanding how neurons remodel their shapes on a local scale to adapt to changing cues from surrounding cells. I use a combination of molecular/genetic and microscopy techniques to monitor changes in gene expression and neuron growth over time. The ultimate goal of these experiments is to gain insight into conserved genetic mechanisms that also regulate neuron development in more complex organisms, including humans.


Fall 2017: BIO111 General Biology I, BIO302 Developmental Biology

Professional Experience

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University, 2010-2014; Visiting Assistant Professor, Colgate University, 2014-2017

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