Kausik Si, Ph.D., a developmental neuroscientist, is the Scientific Director for the Stowers Institute. Si joined the Institute in 2005, was appointed Associate Scientific Director in 2019 and Scientific Director in 2021.
Born in a rural village in India, Si received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Calcutta. He moved to the United States for his doctorate and earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999. Si then went to Columbia University for his postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, M.D., where he focsed on understanding how memories are created in the synapses of the brain.
In his lab, Si and his team combine genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry to analyze the structure of the brain, investigating how a transient experience produces a persistent change in behavior and how only some produce persistent changes in behavior. The lab’s research focuses on a group of proteins, prion-like proteins, and their association with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Si and his team have found that some prions may be essential for long-term memory, a theory that contradicts some long-held viewpoints about the potential cause for Alzheimer’s.
Si’s lab was the first to suggest that CPEB, a protein with prion-like properties, may be at the center of a series of biochemical changes at the connection points between neurons that form the basis for memory persistence.
In his role as Scientific Director, Si also oversees the Technology Centers and Scientific Data teams at the Institute. Si participates in neuroscience and related conferences worldwide.