Bio: I began my research career as an undergraduate researcher at the laboratories of Dr. Mathew K. Mathew (electrophysiology) and Dr. Yamuna Krishna (DNA nanotechnology), at the National Center for Biological Sciences (India). After obtaining my undergraduate degree (B.Tech.) in Industrial Biotechnology from the Center for Biotechnology at Anna University (India), I began my Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), under the mentorship of Dr. Nils G. Walter, an eminent RNA enzymologist. During my graduate research, I developed a broadly applicable toolkit call iSHIRLOC (intracellular single-molecule high-resolution localization and counting) to unravel the sub-cellular orchestration of oncogenic and tumor-suppressive non-coding RNA pathways at an unprecedented single-molecule resolution. As a postdoctoral fellow at the single-molecule analysis in real-time (SMART) center, I built high-resolution microscopes and fostered diverse collaborative ventures, including one (with Dr. Fabrizio dadda di-Fagagna, IFOM, Italy) that led to an unexpected discovery of non-coding RNA function in the DNA damage response. My interests in the seemingly versatile roles of long non-coding RNAs in biology, led me to work with Dr. Arul M. Chinnaiyan, a leader in precision medicine, as an AACR-Bayer prostate cancer postdoctoral fellow. I subsequently discovered novel oncogenes, unraveled their mechanism-of-action and evaluated their clinical potential as a postdoctoral fellow via a quintessentially bench-to-bedside approach. As an independent research investigator, I built on these approaches and paved the way for High-Throughput Single-cell and Single-molecule analysis (HiTSS), which uses automated large area imaging and computer-vision aided multi-variate image analysis to enable biochemical interrogations, ultra-sensitive quantification of gene expression, phenotypic prediction of gene expression heterogeneity and in situ omics.

As of July 2021, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urology, Department of Pathology and Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, and my research program is aimed at understanding how cells regulate gene expression, especially at the RNA level, and how these regulatory programs go awry in pathology. To this end, I leverage ideas from RNA biology, biophysics, cell biology and cancer biology, and integrate expansive methodologies, ranging from high-resolution single-molecule microscopy to high-throughput single-cell sequencing. 


Sethu’s publications

Fun facts: I have visited 25 National Parks in the US and counting!