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 2014-2015.
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 292. Cellular Biology, Neurobiology and Developmental Biology
Catalog Number: 4288  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2014-2015.
Instructors: Ethan Garner, Venkatesh Murthy, Alexander Schier
Course Level: Primarily for Graduates
Description: The biology of the individual cell lies at the heart of multi-cellular phenomena such as development and neural function. This course will emphasize critical evaluation of the primary literature, experimental design and scientific writing.
Note: Required for first year graduate students in the Molecules, Cells and Organisms (MCO) Training Program.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 10-11:30
MCB 306. Biophysics and Physiology of Neurons
Catalog Number: 1695  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Venkatesh Murthy
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
NEUROBIO 375. Mechanisms of Synaptic Transmission & Plasticity
Catalog Number: 0790  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term And Spring Term 2014-2015.
Instructor: Venkatesh Murthy
Course Level: Exclusively for Graduates
(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?


Rokni D, Hemmelder V, Kapoor V, Murthy V.N. 2014. An olfactory cocktail party: figure-ground segregation of odorants in rodents. Nat. Neurosci. (in press).

Blauvelt DG, Sato TF, Wienisch M, Knöpfel T, Murthy V.N.. 2013. Distinct spatiotemporal activity in principal neurons of the mouse olfactory bulb in anesthetized and awake states. Front Neural Circuits. 7:46.

Markopoulos F*, Rokni D*, Gire DH, Murthy V.N.. 2012. Functional properties of cortical feedback projections to the olfactory bulb. Neuron, 76(6):1175-88. (* - equal first authors)

Lau CG, Murthy V.N.. 2012. Activity-dependent regulation of inhibition via GAD67. J. Neurosci. 32:8521-8531.

Murthy, V.N. 2011. Olfactory maps in the brain. Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 34:233-258.

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. Nat. Neurosci. 13:1404-1412. (☥ co-senior authors).

Petzold, G.C., Hagiwara, A. and Murthy, V.N. 2009. Serotonergic modulation of odor input to the mammalian olfactory bulb. Nat. Neurosci. 12:784-791.

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. Nat. Neurosci. 12:210-220. (* equal first authors; ☥ co-senior authors)

updated: 05/23/2016