Academics & Research

Immunology, Inflammation, & Infectious Disease (3i) Initiative

Diabetes/Metabolism Bridge

Sihem Boudina, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Nutrition and Integrative Physiology

My research is focused on deciphering the mechanisms underlying pathogenic fat expansion in humans and mice. As obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, we are also interested in how obesity affect cardiac metabolism.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: autophagy, cardiac, mitochondria, adipose progenitors, redox

Email:  sboudina@u2m2.utah.edu

Bhagirath Chaurasia, PhD

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Nutrition and Integrative Physiology

To understand which tissues are most sensitive to ceramide accumulation. Delineating molecular mechanism via which nutrients are sensed by sphingolipids. The regulation of fat metabolism by the immune system.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: lipotoxicity, insulin, diabetes, inflammation 

Email:  bhagirath.chaurasia@health.utah.edu

Micah Drummond, PhD

Title:  Associate Professor - Physical Therapy and Athletic Training

The focus of our research is to examine the mechanisms that are associated with disuse-induced muscle atrophy and metabolic dysfunction in aging.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: aging, muscle, inflammation, metabolism, insulin resistance, ceramide

Email:  micah.drummond@hsc.utah.edu

Katsu Funai, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor - Physical Therapy and Athletic Training

Our laboratory is interested in the intracellular fate of lipids into membrane phospholipids and how they affect cellular energetics. We hypothesize that some of the metabolic defects induced by obesity can be explained by changes in membrane lipid composition.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: metabolism, lipids, mitochondria, bioenergetics, obesity, exercise

Email:  kfunai@health.utah.edu

Ramkiran Gouripeddi, MBBS

Title:  Research Assistant Professor - Biomedical Informatics

My research focuses on developing novel informatics methods and their application to clinical and translational research. I use advanced computational and artificial intelligence methods for domain specific biomedical problems that require integration of distributed information and omics data for big data analytics, and management of their metadata and semantics. More particularly, I am interested in discovering the interactions of the exposome and microbiome with the host's immunome in metabolic disorders.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: clinical and translational research informatics, semantic integration of information, distributional semantics, metadata discovery, exposomics, machine learning

Email:  ram.gouripeddi@utah.edu

Jared Rutter, PhD

Title:  Professor - Biochemistry

The Rutter lab is trying to understand the reciprocal relationship between metabolism and cell behavior and fate decisions.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: metabolism, mitochondria, signaling

Email:  rutter@biochem.utah.edu

Scott Summers, PhD

Title:  Professor - Nutrition and Integrative Physiology

Ceramides are products of fat and protein metabolism that accumulate in individuals prone to metabolic disorders. Once ceramide levels rise above a critical threshold, tissues become unresponsive to insulin, the hormone that facilitates nutrient storage. The Summers Laboratory found that implementing pharmacological or genetic engineering strategies to block ceramide accumulation in rodents improves insulin sensitivity and prevents the onset of diabetes and fatty liver disease. Building upon these discoveries, they now seek to understand the regulatory mechanisms governing ceramide synthesis or action and to identify new therapeutic strategies for reducing ceramides to treat these pathologies.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: lipotoxicity, diabetes, insulin resistance, immunometabolism, dyslipidemia, ceramides

Email:  scott.a.summers@health.utah.edu

Diane Ward, PhD

Title:  Research Associate Professor - Pathology

My research has focused on two major areas. First, I study membrane trafficking specifically looking at vesicle formation and molecules involved in endocytic/secretory vesicle homeostasis. My lab, in collaboration with Dr. Ryan O’Connell (Pathology), has focused on identifying the mechanisms that regulate exosome formation, release and delivery in vivo and in vitro and how exosomes modulate immune response. The second area of research I have focused on is iron metabolism. Iron is an element required by virtually all organisms. The transport of iron into cells and within cells requires appropriate membrane trafficking. Our studies on iron metabolism have focused primarily on the mechanisms that regulate iron import/export in the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae with the goal of identifying homologues in higher eukaryotes.

3i Bridge/Pillar: Diabetes/Metabolism

Keywords: iron, mitochondria, lipids, Fe-S cluster, lysosome, erythroid development

Email:  diane.mcveyward@path.utah.edu