Indra Bishnoi

Behavioural Researcher | Sustainability Consultant | Western University

I recently completed my doctoral degree in the field of Neuroscience, working at the interface between behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, immunology, and cancer research.

Co-supervised in the lab of Dr. Klaus-Peter Ossenkopp and Dr. Martin Kavaliers at Western University, my research currently focuses on the development of a model of anticipatory nausea based on conditioned disgust behaviours and the influence of immune activation on these behaviours.

But what does that really mean? Anticipatory nausea is best explained within the context of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that undeniably saves millions of lives worldwide. Yet, millions of treatable patients decide to drop out of this treatment. Why?

One of the reasons that people forego chemotherapy is due to conditioned nausea. Chemotherapy-induced conditioned nausea occurs when the hospital environment becomes associated, or paired, with the nauseating side effects of chemotherapy. Due to this association, patients re-entering the hospital often feel the need to vomit right when they step foot into the hospital. Imagine living with a life-threatening illness that can be treated, but just the sight of the treatment leaves you feeling nauseous. This is a painstaking reality for up to 45% of those diagnosed with cancer.

While anticipatory nausea is one of the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy, new and exciting developments in neuroimmunology are making strides to better understand and treat this learned response.

When I am not at the lab, I enjoy surrounding myself with nature. With recent global events, this fondness for nature has driven me to lend a voice to environmental activism in my community. London has afforded me the opportunity to make some important changes – from the first climate declaration at Western University to advocacy about the environmental impact of everyday things. Now in my spare time I enjoy helping businesses with their most pressing sustainability concerns.