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Niranjala Tillakaratne, Ph.D.

Email Address:

Mailing Address:
Dept. of Integrative Biology and Physiology
621 Charles E. Young Dr South
Box 951606
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Office Address:
4208 Life Science Building

Work Phone Number:
Lab 310 825 8495
Office 310 206 2575

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Department / Division Affiliations
Member, Brain Research Institute
Researcher, Integrative Biology and Physiology

Dr. Niranjala Tillakaratne received B.S degree from University of Sri Jayewardenapura, Sri Lanka, and Ph.D. degree in Biology from UCLA, and completed postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Dr. Allan Tobin and Dr. Reggie Edgerton. Since 1988, she has been engaged in research at UCLA to study the function and regulation of GABA-related molecules in GABAergic neurons in the brain and spinal cord during normal development and after injury. Currently Dr. Tillakaratne is an associate research Scientist working on the neuroplasticity of the spinal cord after injury and rehabilitation. Using spinal cord injured rats and mice, she is investigating the use-dependent plasticity of inhibitory signaling as well as the expression of immediate early genes associated with spinal and sensory neurons in response to rehabilitative training such as standing, and stepping. A robotic system is utilized to impose selective, well-controlled, and repetitive motor training in spinally transected rats. Dr. Tillakaratne is using a combination of pharmacological, anatomical and biochemical approaches to gain insight into the physiological and molecular mechanisms of spinal learning.


Tillakaratne NJ, Guu JJ, de Leon RD, Bigbee AJ, London NJ, Zhong H, Ziegler M,Joynes R, Roy RR, Edgerton VR. Functional recovery of stepping in rats after a complete neonatal spinal cord transection is not due to regrowth across the lesion site . Neuroscience 2010; 166: 23-33.
Khristy W, Ali NJ, Bravo AB, de Leon R, Roy RR, Zhong H, London NJ, Edgerton VR, Tillakaratne NJ Changes in GABA(A) receptor subunit gamma 2 in extensor and flexor motoneurons and astrocytes after spinal cord transection and motor training. Brain Res 2009; 1273: 9-17.
Otoshi CK, Walwyn WM, Tillakaratne NJ, Zhong H, Roy RR, Edgerton VR Distribution and localization of 5-HT(1A) receptors in the rat lumbar spinal cord after transection and deafferentation. J Neurotrauma 2009; 26: 575-84.
Jindrich DL, Joseph MS, Otoshi CK, Wei RY, Zhong H, Roy RR, Tillakaratne NJ,Edgerton VR Spinal learning in the adult mouse using the Horridge paradigm. J Neurosci Methods, 2009; 182(2): 250-4.
Edgerton VR, Courtine G, Gerasimenko YP, Lavrov I, Ichiyama RM, Fong AJ, Cai LL, Otoshi CK, Tillakaratne NJ, Burdick JW, Roy RR Training locomotor networks. Brain Res Rev 2008; 57: 241-54 (Review).
Bigbee AJ, Crown ED, Ferguson AR, Roy RR, Tillakaratne NJ, Grau JW, Edgerton VR Two chronic motor training paradigms differentially influence acute. Behav Brain Res 2007; 180: 95-101.
Ahn, SN Guu, JJ Tobin, AJ Edgerton, VR Tillakaratne, NJ Use of c-fos to identify activity-dependent spinal neurons after stepping in intact adult rats. Spinal Cord. 2006; 44: 547-59.
Zanjani H, Lemaigre-Dubreuil Y, Tillakaratne NJK, Blokhin A, McMahon RP, Tobin AJ and Vogel MW. Cerebellar Purkinje cell loss in aging Hu-Bcl2 transgenic mice. J Comp Neurol 2004; 475: 481-92.
Edgerton VR, Tillakaratne NJK, Bigbee AJ, de Leon RD, and Roy RR Locomotor recovery potential after spinal cord injury. Neuro-behavioral determinants of interlimb coordination, edited by Swinnen S. & P Duysens J 2004; .
Edgerton, VR Tillakaratne, NJ Bigbee, AJ de Leon, RD Roy, RR Plasticity of the spinal neural circuitry after injury. Annual review of neuroscience. . 2004; 27: 145-67.
Mackie, M Hughes, DI Maxwell, DJ Tillakaratne, NJ Todd, AJ Distribution and colocalisation of glutamate decarboxylase isoforms in the rat spinal cord. Neuroscience. . 2003; 119(2): 461-72.
Banerjee PK, Olsen RW, Tillakaratne NJK, Brailowsky S, Tobin AJ, and Snead OC, 3rd. Absence seizures decrease steroid modulation of t-[35S]butylbicyclophosphorothionate binding in thalamic relay nuclei. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1998; 287: 766-772.
Edgerton VR, Roy RR, de Leon RD, Tillakaratne NJK, and Hodgson JA. Does motor learning occur in spinal cord?. The neuroscientist 1997; 3: 287-294.
Edgerton, VR de Leon, RD Tillakaratne, N Recktenwald, MR Hodgson, JA Roy, RR Use-dependent plasticity in spinal stepping and standing. Advances in neurology. . 1997; 72: 233-47.
Hoang, TX Nieto, JH Dobkin, BH Tillakaratne, NJ Havton, LA Acute implantation of an avulsed lumbosacral ventral root into the rat conus medullaris promotes neuroprotection and graft reinnervation by autonomic and motor neurons. Neuroscience. 2006; 138: 1149-60.
Hoang, TX Nieto, JH Tillakaratne, NJ Havton, LA Autonomic and motor neuron death is progressive and parallel in a lumbosacral ventral root avulsion model of cauda equina injury. The Journal of comparative neurology. . 2003; 467(4): 477-86.
Tillakaratne, NJ de Leon, RD Hoang, TX Roy, RR Edgerton, VR Tobin, AJ Use-dependent modulation of inhibitory capacity in the feline lumbar spinal cord. The Journal of neuroscience. 2002; 22(8): 3130-43.
Edgerton, VR Leon, RD Harkema, SJ Hodgson, JA London, N Reinkensmeyer, DJ Roy, RR Talmadge, RJ Tillakaratne, NJ Timoszyk, W Tobin, A Retraining the injured spinal cord. The Journal of physiology. . 2001; 533(Pt 1): 15-22.
Tillakaratne, NJ Mouria, M Ziv, NB Roy, RR Edgerton, VR Tobin, AJ Increased expression of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD(67)) in feline lumbar spinal cord after complete thoracic spinal cord transection. Journal of neuroscience research. . 2000; 60(2): 219-30.
Banerjee, PK Tillakaratne, NJ Brailowsky, S Olsen, RW Tobin, AJ Snead, OC Alterations in GABAA receptor alpha 1 and alpha 4 subunit mRNA levels in thalamic relay nuclei following absence-like seizures in rats. Experimental neurology. . 1998; 154(1): 213-23.