Abha K Rajbhandari

Abha K Rajbhandari, PhD

  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR | Neuroscience

Research Topic:


Dr. Rajbhandari is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Rajbhandari obtained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied the role of the amygdala sub-regions in regulation of stress and sensorimotor gating via norepinephrine and the neuropeptide- corticotropin releasing factor. Prior to joining Mount Sinai, Dr. Rajbhandari was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Los Angeles, where her research was focused on understanding the role of the neuropeptide, pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide in regulation of fear and stress behaviors via amygdala sub-regions. She also developed a mouse model of stress-enhanced fear learning during her work.

Dr. Rajbhandari is a recipient of the Akira Arimura Award for Young Investigators for Excellence in VIP/PACAP Research, two times recipient of the Brain and Behavior foundations’ prestigious NARSAD award for young investigators, WhiteHall foundation grant and the Friedman Brain Institute Pilot Grant award.

At the Icahn School of Medicine. Dr. Rajbhandari’s team focuses on the brain, vagus nerve and body mechanisms of fear, stress and anxiety via neuromodulatory actions of norepinephrine and neuropeptides.

Karki lab website: https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/karkilab/


Brain and Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Young investigator Award

WhiteHall Foundation Grants-In-Aid Award

Akira Arimura Young Investigator Grant

Friedman Brain Institute Scholars Award

Arimura Award for Young Investigators for Excellence in VIP/PACAP Research

Brain and Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Award

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship

National Institute of Health Predoctoral Training Fellowship

2015: Trainee Professional Development Award, Society for Neuroscience


English, Hindi, Nepali


1. Rajbhandari AK, Octeau JC, Pennington ZT, Gonzalez S, Mohamed F, Trott J, Chavez J, Ngyuen E, Keces N, Hong WZ, Neve RL, Waschek J, Khakh BS, Fanselow MS. A basomedial amygdala to intercalated cells microcircuit expressing PACAP and its receptor PAC1 regulates contextual fear. 2021. Journal of Neuroscience.

2. Rajbhandari P, Arneson D, Feng AC, Ahn IS, Diamante G, Zaghari N, Thomas BJ, Vergnes L , Lee SD , Rajbhandari AK, Reue K, Smale ST, Yang X and Tontonoz P. Single Cell Analysis Reveals Immune Cell-Adipocyte Crosstalk Regulating the Transcription of Thermogenic Adipocytes. 2019. Elife. (Note- first paper as a Principal Investigator with research contribution from the lab at ISSMS)

3. Rajbhandari AK, Bakshi VP. Repeated norepinephrine receptor stimulation in the BNST induces sensorimotor gating deficits via corticotropin releasing factor. 2020. Neuropharmacology.

4. Pennington ZT, Trott, JM, Rajbhandari AK, Li K, Walwyn WM, Evans CJ, Fanselow MS. Chronic opioid pretreatment potentiates the sensitization of fear learning by trauma. 2019. Neuropsychopharmacology.

5. Nagai J, Rajbhandari AK, Gangwani MR, Hachisuka A, Coppola G, Sotiris MC, Fanselow MS, Khakh BS. Astrocytes induce acute hyperactivity in adult mice by reactivation of a latent synaptogenic cue. Cell. 2019.


Multi-Disciplinary Training Area

Neuroscience [NEU]