Suren S. Ambegaokar

David O. Robbins Associate Professor of Neuroscience & Microbiology


B.A., University of California, Berkeley

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

NIH Post-doctoral Fellowship (Neurovirology), University of Pennsylvania


Suren Ambegaokar studies neurodegenerative disorders, infectious diseases of the nervous system, and the intersection of the two. He uses genetic models of human diseases in Drosophila (fruit flies) for use in identifying molecular mechanisms of pathology and to test pharmacological and genetic modifiers of disease. His current projects focus on the role of RNA interference and autophagy in the molecular pathology of Alzheimer disease and in regulating Rhabdovirus infections in neurons and non-neuronal cells. 

A native of southern California, Suren Ambegaokar graduated with a B.A. from UC Berkeley with a double-major in Molecular & Cell Biology (Neurobiology) and Film Studies. After college, he worked as a research associate in the lab of Greg Cole at UCLA studying molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer disease in transgenic mouse models and human brain tissue. His dissertation work at UCLA and post-doctoral work at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, both under the mentorship of George Jackson, focused on human genetics and Drosophila models of neurodegeneration, specifically as related to the protein, MAP Tau. To gain training in neuroimmunology, Dr. Ambegaokar was a NIH postdoctoral fellow studying HIV infection in the brain and its related neurodegenerative effects at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, under the mentorship of Dennis Kolson. In 2014, Dr. Ambegaokar started as an assistant professor of Neuroscience and Microbiology at Ohio Wesleyan University, serving in both the Department of Botany and Microbiology and the David O. Robbins Program in Neuroscience.

Suren Ambegaokar loves to travel, and you can stop by his office to borrow travel books on Chile, Scotland, India, Pakistan, China, and Guatemala (among others), or stop by for any other discussions on classic and foreign films. He lives with his wife, daughter, and their 4 amazing cats in Delaware, OH.

Areas of Interest/Expertise

  • RNA biology & RNA-binding proteins
  • Cell signaling pathways
  • Tauopathies:  Alzheimer disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, ALS
  • Innate immunity of the brain
  • Rhabdoviridae (VSV, Sigma, Rabies) & HIV-1 (Lentiviridae)
  • Autophagy


Molecular Biology of Viruses

Medical & Medicinal Mycology

Introduction to Neuroscience

Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience

Genomics & Genetic Diseases


Seminar: HIV in the Antiretroviral Era

Seminar: Neuroimmunology

Seminar: Circadian Rhythms

Seminar: Coronaviruses

Selected Publications

Chatterjee S, Ambegaokar SS, Jackson GR, Mudher A (2019). "Insulin-Mediated Changes in Tau Hyperphosphorylation and Autophagy in a Drosophila Model of Tauopathy and Neuroblastoma Cells." Front Neurosci, 13:801.

Gill AJ, Garza R, Ambegaokar SS, Gelman BB, Kolson DL (2018). "Heme oxygenase-1 promoter region (GT)n polymorphism associates with increased neuroimmune activation and risk for encephalitis in HIV infection." J Neuroinflammation, 15(1): 70.

Kovacsics CE, Gill AJ, Ambegaokar SS, Gelman BB, Kolson DL (2017). "Degradation of heme oxygenase-1 by the immunoproteaosome in astrocytes: A potential interferon-gamma dependent mechanism contributing to HIV pathogenesis." Glia, 65(8): 1264-1277.

Iyer J, Wang Q, Le T, Pizzo L, Gronke S, Ambegaokar SS, Imai Y, Srivastava A, Toisi BL, Mardon G, Artero R, Jackson GR, Isaacs AM, Partridge L, Lu B, Kumar JP, Girirajan S (2016). "Quantitative Assessment of Eye Phenotypes for Functional Genetic Studies Using Drosophila melanogaster." Genes, Genomes, Genetics, 6(5): 1427-37.

Ambegaokar SS and Kolson DL (2014). “Heme oxygenase-1 dysregulation in the brain: implications for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.” Current HIV Research, 12(3): 174-88.

Choksi D, Roy B, Chatterjee S, Yuseff T, Bakhoum M, Sengupta U, Ambegaokar SS, Kayed R, Jackson GR (2013). “TDP-43 Phosphorylation by Casein Kinase Iε Promotes Oligomerization and Enhances Toxicity In Vivo.” Human Molecular Genetics, 23(4): 1025-35; doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt498.

Ambegaokar SS and Jackson GR (2012). “The downward spiral of tau and autolysosomes: a new hypothesis in neurodegeneration.” Autophagy, 8(7): 1144-5; doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr432.

Ambegaokar SS and Jackson GR (2011). “Functional Genomic Screen and Network Analysis Reveal Novel Modifiers of Tauopathy Dissociated from Tau Phosphorylation.” Human Molecular Genetics, 20(24): 4947-77; doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr432.

Ambegaokar SS and Jackson GR (2011). “Double vision: Pigment genes do more than just color.” Fly, 5(3): 206-9.

Ambegaokar SS and Jackson GR (2010). “Interaction between eye pigment genes and tau-induced neurodegeneration in Drosophila melanogaster.” Genetics, 186(1): 435-42.

Ambegaokar SS, Roy B, Jackson GR (2010). “Neurodegenerative models in Drosophila: polyglutamine Disorders, Parkinson Disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.” Neurobiol Disease, 40(1): 29-39.

Zhao L, Ma QL, Calon F, Harris-White ME, Yang F, Lim GP, Morihara T, Ubeda OJ, Ambegaokar S, Hansen JE, Weisbart RH, Teter B, Frautschy SA, Cole GM (2006). “Role of p21-activated kinase pathway defects in the cognitive deficits of Alzheimer disease.” Nature Neurosci, 9(2): 234-42.

Ma Q, Lim G, Harris-White M, Yang F, Ambegaokar S, Ubeda O, Glabe C, Teter B, Frautschy S, Cole G (2006). “Antibodies against beta-amyloid reduce Abeta oligomers, glycogen synthase kinase-3beta activation and tau phosphorylation in vivo and in vitro.” J Neurosci Res, 83(3): 374-384.

Yang F, Lim GP, Begum AN, Ubeda OJ, Simmons MR, Ambegaokar SS, Chen PP, Kayed R, Glabe CG, Frautschy SA, Cole GM (2005). “Curcumin inhibits formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, binds plaques, and reduces amyloid in vivo.” J Biological Chemistry, 280(7): 5892-901.

Zhao L, Teter B, Morihara T, Lim GP, Ambegaokar SS, Ubeda OJ, Frautschy SA, Cole GM (2004). “Insulin-degrading enzyme as a downstream target of insulin receptor signaling cascade: implications for Alzheimer's disease intervention.” J Neuroscience, 24(49): 11120-6.

Contact Info


Schimmel/Conrades Science Center #341
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, OH 43015
P 740-368-3915