Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Endowed Professor
Department of Biology and Biochemistry
Office: SERC 2004
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org - (713) 743-3709
Education: M.D., Ph.D.
OMICs-driven research is exploratory in nature, and seeks to interrogate the entire molecular landscape, with the hope that key pathways or nodes that are aberrant in a disease could be uncovered through a comprehensive brute force screen. To date, comprehensive profiling using multiple “omics” platforms has yielded novel insights on a wide spectrum of diseases. These broad screens are very powerful and clinically useful because they:
1. Help identify key molecules and pathways in a given disease – this not only augments our understanding of the disease, it may also point to novel targets for drug treatment.
2. Help identify novel biomarkers for a given disease – these biomarkers can be used to identify diseases earlier and track disease progression non-invasively.
Listed below are key areas of research in MOHANLAB:
I. Identifying Novel Biomarkers for Diseases: Currently, 3 different platforms are being used in our laboratory to identify novel proteins or metabolites that may be present in the body fluids (e.g., blood, urine, stools, CSF, saliva, sweat) of patients with autoimmune diseases, including SLE (or lupus), arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis), diabetes and various forms of nephritis. These studies are paving the way towards the identification of clinically useful markers for longitudinal disease tracking, while also pointing to potential therapeutic targets. The 3 platforms being used include (a) antibody-based planar arrays, (b) targeted proteome screens using aptamer libraries, and (c) LC/MS and GC/MS based metabolomics screens to identify dysregulated metabolites in body fluids.
II. Molecular Studies of Lupus Nephritis & B-cells: Work in several laboratories, including ours, has shown that the genes for SLE (lupus) affect both the immune system (notably B-cells, T-cells and myeloid cells) as well as the kidneys. Several projects in our laboratory focus on molecules that play key functional roles in B-cells or within the kidneys. Ongoing projects include: (a) modeling human genes for SLE in animal models, using transgenic and CRISPR/CAS9 approaches, (b) studying the pathogenic role of selected proteins and metabolites in lupus nephritis, and (c) identifying protein markers of acute nephritis and chronic nephritis.
III. Testing Novel Targeted Therapeutics and Natural Products:III. Testing Novel Targeted Therapeutics and Natural Products: Our laboratory has established several animal models of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, arthritis, nephritis, systemic sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. These have been very helpful in determining the therapeutic efficacy of pharmaceutical compounds targeted to specific molecular pathways within the kidneys or B-cells, as well as various natural products (including green tea EGCG, curcumin, rose hip, fish oil DHA/EPA, etc). We have successfully completed the first human clinical trial of one of these agents recently.
IV. Novel Exploratory Biomedical Projects: In collaboration with experts in the field, several novel projects have recently blossomed in the laboratory. These include:
- Testing of a novel drug target for cancer (Collaborator: Dr. R.E. Davis)
- Development of novel zebrafish models of autoimmunity (Collaborator: Dr. M. Bondesson)
- Development of novel biosensors for point-of-care monitoring so that patients can monitor various biomarker levels in their body fluids from the comfort of their home (Collaborators: Drs. R. C. Wilson and S. Prasad).
- Imaging of renal disease and skin disease non-invasively using cutting edge optical imaging platforms (Collaborators: Drs. K. Larin and W.C. Shih).
- Developing novel 3D models of heart diseases (Collaborator: Dr. R. Birla)
- Mathematical modeling of complex OMICs data (Collaborator: Dr. E. May)
Honors and Awards:
- 1993: Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Arthritis Foundation, USA
- 1996: Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow, Irvington Institute for Immunological Research, USA
- 1998: New Investigator Award, Clinical Immunology Society, USA
- 1998: Arthritis Investigator Award, National Arthritis Foundation, USA
- 1998: Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, USA
- 2000: Pfizer-Scholl Young Investigator Award, American Association of Immunologists, USA
- 2004: Elected member, American Society of Clinical Investigation, USA
- 2005: Henry Kunkel Young Investigator Award, American College of Rheumatology, USA
- 2006: Elected member, The Kunkel Society, USA
- 2006: Helen & Walter Bader Endowed Professor, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
- 2007: Director, FOCIS Center of Excellence, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
- 2008: Director, Center of Research Translation in SLE, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
- 2010: McGee Chair in Arthritis, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
- 2010-2013: Best Lecturer Teaching Award, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
- 2013: Cullen Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX