I am a Chemistry PhD candidate at Stanford University. I was born in India and attended school in Pune, Maharashtra. I did my undergraduate at UCLA, where I received a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering. At the UCLA Systems Engineering Laboratory, I designed control systems for the continuous manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs. At Stanford, for my PhD thesis project, I joined the Sattely lab, where I study the production of therapeutic small-molecules in plants. Through my work, I discovered the biosynthetic pathways for various plant compounds of agronomic, dietary and therapeutic interest and engineered their production in heterologous systems. I also developed genomics tools that enable the improved discovery of plant metabolism. Ultimately, my work aims to enable the transfer of these biosynthetic pathways into scaleable heterologous systems like yeast for sustainable, large-scale production of these high-value plant compounds through processes like industrial fermentation of yeast.
Professional Affiliations and Activities
Fellow, Artis Ventures (2022 - Present)
President, Stanford Biotech Group (2022 - Present)
Communications Director, Stanford Biotech Group (2020 - Present)
Volunteer, Stanford Chemistry Outreach (2018 - 2020)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Plants provide some of the most important drugs in current clinical use. It can be challenging to chemically synthesize these drugs or sustainably source them from producer plants. These issues could be alleviated if their biosynthetic genes are engineered into heterologous organisms for large-scale production. I am interested in a) understanding how plants produce these valuable drugs and b) engineering the sustainable production of these drugs into other plants for large-scale production.
A Pathogen-Responsive Gene Cluster for Highly Modified Fatty Acids in Tomato.
2020; 180 (1): 176–87.e19
In response to biotic stress, plants produce suites of highly modified fatty acids that bear unusual chemical functionalities. Despite their chemical complexity and proposed roles in pathogen defense, little is known about the biosynthesis of decorated fatty acids in plants. Falcarindiol is a prototypical acetylenic lipid present in carrot, tomato, and celery that inhibits growth of fungi and human cancer cell lines. Using a combination of untargeted metabolomics and RNA sequencing, we discovered a biosynthetic gene cluster in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) required for falcarindiol production. By reconstituting initial biosynthetic steps in a heterologous host and generating transgenic pathway mutants in tomato, we demonstrate a direct role of the cluster in falcarindiol biosynthesis and resistance to fungal and bacterial pathogens in tomato leaves. This work reveals a mechanism by which plants sculpt their lipid pool in response to pathogens and provides critical insight into the complex biochemistry of alkynyl lipid production.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.037
View details for PubMedID 31923394