Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Vice President for University Clinical Affairs; Indiana University

Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs for Clinical Research; Indiana University Health

Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs;
Director, Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute;

August M. Watanabe Professor of Medical Research;
Professor of Psychiatry, Neurobiology and Pharmacology & Toxicology, IUSM

M.D. St. John's Medical College, Bangalore, India (1981)
PhD. Indiana University Medical Center (1993)

Dr. Shekhar is the founding Director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), a statewide institute within the Indiana University School of Medicine, supported by a CTSA grant from the US National Institutes of Health, and established in 2008 as a joint partnership of Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame Universities.  The Institute’s mission is to assist in the rapid translation of new discoveries into novel treatments.    

In addition to his role in leading the statewide translational research initiative, Dr. Shekhar leads successful basic and clinical research programs in the areas of neuropsychiatric disorders, funded by the NIH since 1989.  His laboratory has developed some of the best translational models for panic and related anxiety disorders.  His work focuses on the role of brain abnormalities that could lead to neuropsychiatric disorders and the discovery of new treatments.   He established and directed the Neuroscience Clinical Research Center (NCRC) at Indiana University Department of Psychiatry from 1997 to 2007.  He has directed numerous phase I and II studies in healthy and disease populations, and biomarker studies utilizing physiology and brain imaging methods.  He has initiated several Investigational New Drug applications and has conducted many pharmacokinetic, pharmacogenetic, and clinical trials of novel compounds in the treatment of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders.  He has authored over 200 scientific papers and articles in leading scientific publications.  A number of grants from the National Institutes of Health, private foundations, and commercial collaborations currently support his research and translating of his discoveries into commercial products.  He served as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 2014, and is a tenured member of the Advisory Board for Clinical Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center.  He recently joined as a member of the Advisory Council for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the Board of Governors of the NIH Cures Acceleration Network (CAN).

Neurobiology of anxiety and panic disorders.
Broadly speaking, Dr. Shekhar's research interests are a) neurobiological mechanisms underlying panic, anxiety and fear responses at the basic sciences level and b) clinical program in anxiety disorders that studies a broad range of issues from epidemiology and etiology to treatment outcomes. Basic science studies have focused on delineating the neural circuitry involved in panic like responses funded by NIMH for the last five years. Two CNS sites, in the hypothalamus and the amygdala have been identified as of importance in acute panic-like responses and long-term vulnerability to anxiety. A potential rodent model of panic disorder also has been developed. The clinical research program is currently studying epidemiologic, neuroendocrine, psychologic and pharmacologic aspects of panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and social phobias as well as developing positron emission tomographic (PET) imaging of obsessive compulsive disorder and organic anxiety disorders. In addition, the anxiety disorders center has several collaborative projects planned with the Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology, Neurosurgery and Neurology.

Selected Publications:

Shekhar A, Johnson PL, Sajdyk TJ, Fitz SD, Keim SR, Kelley PE, Gehlert DR, DiMiccoJA. Angiotensin-II is a putative neurotransmitter in lactate-induced panic-like responses in rats with disruption of GABAergic inhibition in the dorsomedial hypothalamus. J Neurosci. 2006; 26(36):9205-15.

Truitt W, Sajdyk TJ, Oberlin B, Dietrich A, McDougle CJ, Shekhar A. From anxiety to autism: spectrum of abnormal social behaviors modeled by progressive disruption of inhibitory neuronal function in the basolateral amygdala in Wistar rats. Psychopharmacol. (2007) 191:107-18.

Hale M, Bouwknecht JA, Spiga F, Shekhar A, and Lowry CA. Exposure to high- and low-light conditions in an open field test of anxiety increases c-Fos expression selectively in the anterior part of the rat basolateral amygdaloid nucleus. Brain Research Bulletin. (2006) 71:174-82.

Lee Y, Gaskins D, Anand A, Shekhar A. Glia Mechanisms in Mood Regulation: A Novel Model of Mood Disorders. Psychopharmacol. (2007)191:55-65.

Carroll CA, Vohs JL, O'donnell BF, Shekhar A, Hetrick WP. Sensorimotor gating in manic and mixed episode bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disord (2007)9:221-9.

Johnson PL, Truitt WA, Fitz SD, Keim SR, Lowry CA, Shekhar A. Neural circuits underlying panic-like response to sodium lactate. J. Neuropsychopharmacol. (2007) in press.

Sajdyk TJ, Johnson PL, Fitz SD, Moran M, Gehlert DR, Urban J, Shekhar A. NPY-induced synaptic plasticity results in stress resilience. J. Neurosci. (2007) in press.

Shekhar A, Potter WZ, Lightfoot J, Leinneman J, McKenzie D, Bymaster F, Felder C. Selective Muscarinic Receptor Agonist Xanomeline is a Novel Treatment Approach for Schizophrenia. Am. J. Psychiatry. (2007) in press.

Johnson PL*, Truitt W*, Fitz SD, Kelley P, Shekhar A. Orexin Neurons are a key substrate for Panic Disorder. Nature Med. (2007) in revision (* equal contribution).

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