Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Email: vnmurthy@fas.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-4833

Mail: BL 4027
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Murthy Lab Homepage
Members of the Murthy Lab
List of Publications from PubMed


MCB 115. Cellular Basis of Neuronal Function
Catalog Number: 8703  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Venkatesh Murthy
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: The essential function of a neuron is to processes complex signals derived from the external world. To accomplish this function, neurons employ diverse mechanisms that respond to chemical and electrical signals with incredible sensitivity and plasticity. In this course, we will study these electrical, molecular, and cellular processes using biophysical and biological approaches. Specifically, we will explore topics on excitable membranes, neurotransmission, ion channels, dendritic integration, intracellular signaling, and synaptic plasticity in the context of various model circuits in the brain.
Meetings: M., W., F., at 2
MCB 306. Biophysics and Physiology of Neurons
Catalog Number: 1695  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Venkatesh Murthy
Course Level: Graduate Course
(View all MCB Courses)


The vast capacity of the brain to process and store information arises from the large number of neurons and their synaptic connectivity. Research in my laboratory is motivated by a desire to understand how neural circuits process information and how they adapt to changing conditions. We develop and use novel optical and physiological methods in the living animal to seek answers to the following general questions in the main olfactory system of rodents:

  1. How is odor information represented in the early stages of the olfactory system?
  2. What is the logic of functional synaptic circuits in the early stages of the olfactory system?
  3. How is information processing affected by different brain states - sleep, wakefulness and neuromodulation?
  4. How are functional circuits in the olfactory system regulated by odor experience?


  1. Hagiwara, A., Pal, S.K., Sato, T.F., Wienisch, M. and Murthy, V.N. 2012. Optophysiological analysis of associational circuits in the olfactory cortex. Front. Neural Circuits 6:18. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2012.00018
  2. Wienisch, M, Blauvelt, D, Sato, T.F. and Murthy, V.N. 2012. Two-photon imaging of neural activity in awake, head-restrained mice. Neuromethods 67:45-60. doi: 10.1007/7657_2011_18
  3. Petzold, G.C. and Murthy, V.N. 2011. Role of astrocytes in neurovascular coupling. Neuron 71:782-797.
  4. Murthy, V.N. 2011. Olfactory maps in the brain. Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 34:233-258.
  5. Isogai, Y., Si, S., Pont-Lezica, L., Tan, T., Kapoor, V., Murthy, V.N. and Dulac, C. 2011. Molecular organization of vomeronasal chemoreception. Nature, 478:241-245. doi: 10.1038/nature10437
  6. Dhawale, A.K., Hagiwara, A., Bhalla, U.S., Murthy, V.N.☥ and Albeanu, D.F.☥ 2010. Non-redundant odor coding by sister mitral cells revealed by light addressable glomeruli in the mouse. Nature Neurosci. 13:1404-1412. (☥ co-senior authors).
  7. Qing, Q., Pal, S.K., Tian, B., Duan, X., Timko, B.P., Cohen-Karni, T., Murthy, V.N.☥ and Lieber, C.M.☥ 2010. Nanowire transistor arrays for mapping neural circuits in acute brain slices. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 107:1882-1887. (☥ co-senior authors)
  8. Petzold, G.C., Hagiwara, A. and Murthy, V.N. 2009. Serotonergic modulation of odor input to the mammalian olfactory bulb. Nature Neurosci. 12:784-791.
  9. Soucy, E.R.*, Albeanu, D.F.*, Fantana, A.L., Murthy, V.N.☥ and Meister, M.☥ 2009. Precision and diversity in an odour map on the olfactory bulb. Nature Neurosci. 12:210-220. (* equal first authors; ☥ co-senior authors)
  10. Petzold, G.C., Albeanu, D.F., Sato, T.F. and Murthy, V.N. 2008. Coupling of neural activity to blood flow in olfactory glomeruli is mediated by astrocytic pathways. Neuron 58:897-910.
  11. Tyler, W.J., Pal, S.K., Petzold G. and Murthy, V.N. 2007. Experience-dependent modification in sensory synapses in the mammalian olfactory bulb. J. Neurosci. 27:9427-9438.

updated: 04/15/2014