Prabhat Kunwar

Prabhat Kunwar, Ph.D.

Prabhat Kunwar

Prabhat Kunwar is a senior group leader in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His research focuses on understanding the neural circuit mechanisms underlying mental illnesses and translating those discoveries into novel therapeutics. His team’s broad interrelated research directions are: (1) to understand which circuits and brain processes are affected by risk genes associated with mental illnesses and how (e.g., genes uncovered in the SCHEMA consortium study), (2) to discover key circuit nodes and underlying pathways and molecules that can be altered to reverse the course of disease, and (3) to develop drug discovery projects based on the targets (molecules and pathways) that are directly or indirectly implicated by human genetics and disease mechanisms. His group uses multi-disciplinary approaches: neural circuit technologies, such as optical imaging, optogenetics, chemogenetics, and viral tracing; genomics, such as single cell transcriptomics; and evaluating quantitative behaviors and pharmacology in animal models.

Prior to joining the Broad in 2022, Kunwar was a translational and drug discovery researcher in the biopharmaceutical research and developmental industry (Biogen and Kallyope). During that time, he led various efforts involving discovery biology, target identification, and validation, as well as platform, animal model, and biomarker development spanning multiple brain disease indications.

Kunwar has broad scientific training in studying biological mechanisms at various biological levels (molecular, cellular, and circuit) in neuroscience and developmental biology. During his postdoctoral and staff scientist tenure at the California Institute of Technology in the laboratory of David Anderson, he leveraged the latest molecular genetic, cellular, and systems approaches to interrogate the neural circuits underlying fear and anxiety, which directly apply to psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, chronic anxiety, and depression.

Kunwar received his Ph.D. in cell, molecular, and developmental biology from New York University School of Medicine under the mentorship of Ruth Lehmann. For his doctoral studies, he combined innovative genetic screens and genomic, molecular, and cellular imaging approaches in Drosophila and identified a novel GPCR-mediated pathway and other critical molecules to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cell migration. He was conferred a Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship for his postdoctoral research and two outstanding thesis awards for his doctoral research.

Contact Prabhat Kunwar at

December 2022