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Director's Report

October 2020

Welcome to our newest FOEDRC member Dr. Bhagirath Chaurasia

Please join us in welcoming Bhagirath Chaurasia, MS, PhD, to the University of Iowa and to the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. Dr. Chaurasia also joins the Division of Endocrinology from his previous position as Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology at the University of Utah. He received his PhD from the University of Cologne in Germany before working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

“The key attraction for me to come to the University of Iowa was the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center led by Dr. Dale Abel that has established itself at the forefront of diabetes research both nationally and internationally. What is unique about FOEDRC is that it not only provides the excellent research infrastructure, but it hosts a combination of young and senior researchers with a common interest in diabetes research. The breadth and depth of the research and the collaborative opportunities along the common theme of diabetes was certainly an attraction for me to come to University of Iowa,” Chaurasia said.

Dr. Chaurasia’s lab is interested in understanding how excessive lipids accumulate in various cells and tissues in obesity that can also lead to inflammation that can worsen diabetes signs and symptoms and increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.  Dr. Chaurasia has had a distinguished career to date. He comes to Iowa with extensive funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and pending support from the American Diabetes Association. His recent work has been published in the some of the most competitive scientific journals. His research thus far has revealed that a particular lipid metabolite known as ceramides that are induced both under obesity and inflammation, are important drivers of diabetes and its cardiovascular complications. Dr. Chaurasia’s research has discovered that ceramides act as nutrient signals that modulate metabolism in a diverse range of cell types such as fat cells, immune cells and in blood vessels. Building on these findings, their research program now aims to understand how ceramide synthesis is regulated and elucidate molecular mechanisms that impart ceramides and their toxicity. The outcome of this work will be the development of new tools and therapeutic approaches not only for treating diabetes, but importantly for preventing its cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks and strokes.

“I am excited to train and mentor undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Iowa while establishing a research program that is competitive and well-funded,” Chaurasia said.