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Saravanan Kolandaivelu, PhD – Research Assistant Professor


E363, E357, WVU Eye Institute
PO Box 9193
Morgantown, WV 26506-9131


Ophthalmology; Biochemistry; Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Graduate Training

PhD in Biochemistry, Structural and Molecular Biology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India


Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Biochemist, WVU, Morgantown, WV

Research Assistant Professor

Research Interests

The focus of my laboratory research is to identify the mechanism behind biogenesis and/or maintenance in the photoreceptor outer segment. Photoreceptor outer segments are modified cilia filled with highly ordered membrane discs that harbor signaling proteins responsible for the detection of photons. It is very puzzling to understand how the photoreceptor OS is maintained and disc membranes are organized and stacked together, which is fundamental for proper function and stability of photoreceptor neurons.

Using a combination of physiological, biochemical and molecular multi-disciplinary approaches, including gene editing, animal models, and tissues culture, we strive to understand our long term goal the mechanism behind biogenesis and/or maintenance in the photoreceptor outer segment. Additionally, our lab studies the importance of the post-translational lipid modification “palmitoylation” in retinal proteins associated with blinding diseases. Among lipid modifications, palmitoylation is the only reversible lipid modification. The dynamic reversibility controls many cellular functions including protein trafficking, protein stability, and protein-protein interaction. We will apply our knowledge of these regulatory pathways in retinal function to develop a novel therapeutic approach.

Current Projects:

  1. Understanding mechanism behind biogenesis and/ or maintenance of photoreceptor outer segments.
  2. Study the importance of membrane potential in photoreceptor stability and function.
  3. Identification of retinal palmitoyl lipid modified proteins and its role.
  4. Understanding the role of the NAD-biosynthetic enzyme NMNAT1 in retinal function and stability.

Lab Personnel

Mr. Joe Murphy, MS

Biology Technologist

Ms. Emily Sechrest, BS

Graduate Student, Biochemistry

Mr. David Sokolov

Undergraduate Honors Student








WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute