Swapnalee Sarmah

Research Assistant Professor, Biology

Current Research

Prenatal alcohol exposure causes various developmental defects and long-term disabilities, referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD prevalence is as high as 2 to 5 per 100 children. In addition to neuro-developmental defects and disabilities, FASD patients exhibit different forms of congenital heart defects (CHDs). CHDs are costly and life threatening global health problems that require on average one invasive surgery, producing considerable morbidity and mortality. My current research is focused on understanding the pathophysiology and molecular mechanisms of FASD, with special emphasis on understanding FASD-associated CHDs. I use zebrafish, an excellent model, to study FASD and effects of nutritional supplements in mitigating FASD defects. My research showed that embryonic alcohol exposure produces persistent heart defects in zebrafish that were detected in human clinical studies. My studies identified BMP and Notch signaling as critical signaling pathways effected during cardiovascular development in ethanol-exposed embryos.  Understanding the mechanisms of alcohol-induced heart developmental defects will enable the identification of new therapies or preventive treatments to suppress the deleterious phenotypes. 

Select Publications

Peer-reviewed Original Research Publications

  1. Sarmah S.*, Muralidharan, P., and Marrs J. 2016. Embryonic ethanol exposure dysregulates BMP and Notch signaling, leading to persistent atrio-ventricular valve defects in zebrafish. PLOS ONE (In press). (*Co-corresponding author).
  2. Sarmah S.*, Chism G., Vaughan M., Muralidharan P., Marrs J. A., and Marrs K. A. (2016) Using zebrafish to implement a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) to study teratogenesis in two biology laboratory courses, Zebrafish, 13(4), 293-304. (*Co-corresponding author).
  3. Muralidharan P, Sarmah S., and Marrs, J. A. (2015) Zebrafish retinal defects induced by ethanol exposure are rescued by retinoic acid and folic acid supplement, Alcohol, 49(2), 149-163.
  4. Sarmah S., Muralidharan, P., Curtis. C. L, McClintick J. N, Buente B.B et. al. (2013) Ethanol exposure disrupts extraembryonic microtubule cytoskeleton and embryonic blastomere cell adhesion, producing epiboly and gastrulation defects, Biology Open, 2(10), 1013-21.
  5. Sarmah S. and Marrs J. A. (2013) Complex cardiac defects after ethanol exposure during discrete cardiogenic events in zebrafish: Prevention with folic acid, Dev. Dyn., 242, 1184–1201.
  6. Clendenon S. G., Sarmah S.*, Shah B., Liu Q., and Marrs J. A. (2011) Zebrafish cadherin-11 participates in retinal differentiation and retinotectal axon projection during visual system development, Dev. Dyn. 241, 442-454. (*, co-first author).
  7. Liu Q., Dalman M. R., Sarmah S., Chen S., Chen Y., Hurlbut A. K., Spencer M. A.,  Pancoe L., Marrs J. A., (2011), Cell adhesion molecule cadherin-6 function in zebrafish cranial and lateral line ganglia development, Dev. Dyn., 240(7),1716-26.
  8. Sarmah S., Barrallo-Gimeno A., Melville D. B., Topczewski J., Solnica-Krezel L., Knapik E. W., (2010), , PLoS One, Apr 28; 5(4):e10367.
  9. Granero-Moltó F., Sarmah S., Lynda R., Spagnoli A., Abrahamson D., Saus J., Hudson B. G., and Knapik E. W. (2008) Goodpasture antigen-binding protein and its spliced variant, ceramide transfer protein, have different functions in the modulation of ceramide-induced apoptosis, J. Biol. Chem., 283(29), 20495.
  10. Kalita D., Sarmah S., Das S. P., Baishya D., Patowary A., Baruah S., Islam N. S. (2008) Synthesis, characterization, reactivity and antibacterial activity of new peroxovanadium(V) complexes anchored to soluble polymers, Reactive and Functional Polymers, 68, 876.
  11. HazarikaP., SarmahS., Kalita D., and Islam N. S.(2008) New peroxovanadium compounds containing biogenic co-ligands: synthesis, stability and effect on alkaline phosphatase activity, Trans. Met. Chem., 33 (1), 69.
  12. Hazarika P., Kalita D., SarmahS., Borah R., and Islam N. S. (2006) New oxo-bridged dinuclearperoxotungsten(VI) complexes: Synthesis, stability and activity in bromoperoxidation, Polyhedron, 25, 3501.
  13. Hazarika P., Kalita D., SarmahS., and Islam N. S. (2006) New oxo-bridged peroxotungstent complexes containing biogenic co-ligands as potent inhibitors of alkaline phosphatase activity, Mol. Cell. Biochem., 284, 39.
  14. Sarmah S.,Kalita D., Hazarika P., and Islam N. S. (2005) Synthesis and Characterization of novel catalase resistant monoperoxodivanadate(V) compounds, Ind. J. Chem., 44A, 2003.
  15. Sarmah S., Kalita D., Hazarika P., Borah R., and Islam N. S. (2004) Synthesis of newer dinuclear and mononuclear peroxo-vanadium(V) complexes containing biogenic co-ligands: A comparative study of some of their properties, Polyhedron, 23, 1097.
  16. SarmahS., Hazarika P., Islam N. S., Rao A. V. S., and Ramasarma T. (2002) Peroxo-bridged divanadate as a selective bromide oxidant in bromoperoxidation, Mol. Cell. Biochem., 236, 95.
  17. SarmahS., Hazarika P., and Islam N. S. (2002) Reaction of diperoxovanadate with vanadylsulphate in presence of EDTA as an access to dinuclearperoxovanadates(V), Polyhedron, 21, 389.
  18. SarmahS. and Islam N. S. (2001) A dinuclearperoxo-vanadium(V) complex with coordinated tripeptide. Synthesis, spectra and reactivity in bromoperoxidation. J. Chem. Res. (Manuscript), 0536; Chem. Res. (Synopsis), 172.


Peer-reviewed Review Article Publication

  1. Sarmah S.* and Marrs J. A. (2016) Zebrafish as a vertebrate model system to evaluate effects of environmental pollutants on cardiac development and function, invited review article for the special issue “Zebrafish: A Model for Toxicological Research” of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(12), 2123. (*Co-corresponding author).
  2. Sarmah S., Muralidharan P., and Marrs J. A. (2016) Common congenital anomalies: Environmental causes and prevention with folic acid containing multivitamins, Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today, 108(3), 274. (*, co-corresponding author).
  3. Muralidharan, P., Sarmah. S.*, Zhou, F. C., and Marrs, J. A. (2013) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Associated Neural Defects: Complex Mechanisms and Potential Therapeutic Targets, Brain Sciences, 3: 964-991. (*, co-first author).