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Dr. Nirao Shah is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Neurobiology at Stanford University. After completing his medical training, Nirao was a graduate student at Caltech, where he identified mechanisms that control differentiation of stem cells that give rise to the peripheral nervous system. For his post-graduate fellowship at Columbia University, Nirao developed genetic approaches to identify neural pathways that regulate social behaviors. In his own laboratory, his research has elaborated on such approaches to identify genes and neurons that control different aspects of social interactions. Nirao’s findings have provided insights into how our brains enable social interactions in health, and they are relevant to understanding mechanisms underlying behavioral manifestations of autism, dementia, mood disorders, and PTSD.
We study how our brains generate social interactions that differ between the sexes. Such gender differences in behavior are regulated by sex hormones, experience, and social cues. Accordingly, we are characterizing how these internal and external factors control gene expression and neuronal physiology in the two sexes to generate behavior. We are also interested in understanding how such sex differences in the healthy brain translate to sex differences in many neuro-psychiatric illnesses.