Laboratorium Biologii Komórek Glejowych

Do you know that our digestive system has even more cells than our brain? There is an old saying that “We are what we eat”. However, the glial cells in our digestive system has received less attention from the scientific community (for reasons unclear).

Recent studies show that the drugs that are prescribed to Parkinson or Cancer patients can be metabolized in our guts. This adds an extremely new level of complexity in discovering fully functional drugs. This may be one of the major reasons for candidate-drugs that reach yet fail in human clinical trials.

Using in vitro and in vivo models (C. elegans, Zebrafish, Chicken, Mice, Rats, Pigs and etc.,), The main research focus of our group is to understand

  1. How the gut glial cells develop and functions?
  2. How the gut glial cells interact with the metabolites of the food that are consumed.
  3. How the gut glial cells interact with the microbiome?
  4. How the gut glial cells interact with the brain?
  5. How the gut glial cells respond to existing and novel drugs that are usually prescribed to patients?

Highly motivated students at all levels are invited to discuss potential research projects of interest.

PhD Savani Anbalagan
telefon: +48 22 55 43836
pokój: 02.103


Centrum Nowych Technologii (CeNT)
Uniwersytet Warszawski
ul. S. Banacha 2c
02-097 Warszawa

Education and degrees

2014 PhD in Industrial Biotechnology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

2009 Master of Technology in Industrial Biotechnoloy, SASTRA University, Thanjavur, India


Research experience and appointments:

Since July 2019 Assistant Professor (Adiunkt Naukowy) and Head of the Laboratory of Glial biology at CeNT, University of Warsaw.

2015-2019 Senior Postdoc in Prof. Gil Levkowitz group, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2013-2015 Postdoc in Prof. Gil Levkowitz group, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2009-2012 Doctoral student in Prof. Maria Pia Longhese group, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

2009 Guest student at Prof. Daniel Otzen group, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark


2018 Award for outstanding achievements in postdoctoral research, Feinberg Graduate School, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2016 Koshland Prize, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2015-2018 Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

2013-2015 Israel PBC Fellowship for Outstanding Post-Doctoral Researchers from China and India

2012 Award for Best project proposal, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

2009-2012 EU-FP7 Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher during PhD studies

2008 Indian Academy of Science – Summer Research Fellowship


Key Publications

Anbalagan S*, Blechman J*, Gliksberg M, Gordon L, Rotkopf R, Dadosh T, Shimoni E, Levkowitz G. Synaptic actin dynamics regulates oxytocin neuropeptide content in vivoeLife 2019

Anbalagan S*, Gordon L*, Blechman J, Matsuoka R, Rajamannar P, Wircer E, Biran J, Reuveny E, Leshkowitz D, Stainier D.Y.R, Levkowitz G. Pituicyte cues regulate the development of permeable neuro-vascular interfaces. Dev Cell. 2018

Bonetti D, Anbalagan S, Lucchini G, Clerici M, Longhese MP. Tbf1 and Vid22 promote resection and non-homologous end joining of DNA double-strand break ends. EMBO J. 2013.

Anbalagan S, Bonetti D, Lucchini G, Longhese MP. Rif1 supports the function of the CST complex in yeast telomere capping. PLoS Genet. 2011.

Group Leader:
PhD Savani Anbalagan

Research Technician:
Kamil Kowalski

Animals eat food to survive and be smart. Humans, the smartest of the animals, learnt how to paint, speak, create fire, mine coals for energy, design smartphones and etc. Humans accomplished another scientific miracle, they used microorganisms in the nature to ferment foods (bread, cheese, yogurt, kapusta kiszone, wine and etc). Whether these foods also made us healthier or smarter is controversial.

However, when we consume these foods, for instance kapusta kiszone, the digested kapusta kiszone materials in our intestine talk with approximately 1.5kilos of microbiome (several millions of different bacteria, archae, fungi and etc) in our digestive system. These microbiomes play an important role in digesting the food that we eat and produce vitamins and lot of other chemicals. Only after 1990, did scientists came to a consensus that every organism, from insects to humans have microbiomes. Termites need microbiome to digest the wood and make energy. Queen honey-bees have different microbiome than worker honey-bees.  Mothers share their microbiome when giving vaginal birth and during breast-feeding.

Some scientists even wonder, if microbiomes are indeed our real brain. Recently using latest technologies (NextGen DNA sequencing, proteomics, NMR and etc), scientists observe imbalances in microbiome of human patients with various diseases (Asthma, Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Heart-problems, Autism, Parkinson, Depression and etc).

As microbiomes has the power to override human genetic makeup. Similar to chicken or egg question, it is controversial, whether balanced microbiomes can help us live a healthier life or even cure such diseases. In our research group, we closely collaborate with the scientists across different disciplines microbiologists, chemists, biologists, engineers, and doctors in Ochota campus and across the world.

We ask simple questions:

  1. Is eating home-made kapusta kiszone can help us live a better life?
  2. What happens if we do not eat home-made kapusta kiszone?
  3. What happens to our 2-kilos of microbiome when we eat home-made Kapusta kiszone?
  4. How the changes in our microbiome affect our organs (liver, brain and etc)?

However, to address these questions, we will use latest techniques to find all the chemicals that are released in our body and how such chemicals can interact with other cells and organs in the body. Only by understanding how our body works, we can make new drugs or find more foods like Kapusta kiszone.


For further interests:

  1. Termite microbiome by Jared Leedbetter:
  2. Honeybee microbiome by Nancy Moron:
  3. Mother to baby microbiome by Mary Lou Kopas:
  4. Human microbiome by Susan Tuddenham:
  5. 1.5kilo microbiome by Eran Elinav:
  6. Listen to your grandmother when it comes to food by John Cryan: