The development of metabolic diseases, such as fatty liver, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes is influenced by nutritional, lifestyle, and genetic factors and result in myriad molecular changes that alter the progression of disease.
The overarching goal of the Sampath Lab is to delineate the cellular alterations that occur during the development of metabolic diseases. In this way, we seek to identify pathways that can be targeted for nutritional and pharmaceutical therapies to preserve health and improve health outcomes.
Over the years, our inquiries have led us to focus our efforts on two related but distinct topics– the regulation of systemic metabolic health via:
1) the modulation of lipid metabolism; and
2) the regulation of oxidative DNA damage and repair.
We are hiring! The Sampath Lab is seeking qualified postdoctoral candidates interested in lipid metabolism. See the full ad at: https://careers.asbmb.org/jobs/
Regulation of lipid metabolism and its impact on tissue and whole body health
This project has direct relevance to understanding human diseases like atherosclerosis, fatty liver, and diabetes and devising nutritional and pharmacological approaches to mitigate these metabolic diseases. Specifically, we are interested in understanding how lipid metabolism is regulated in different cell types and tissues like liver, intestine, and heart, with a focus on the lipid modifying enzyme, stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD). SCD catalyzes the conversion of saturated fatty acids to monounsaturated fatty acids. SCD is a highly regulated enzyme, despite the fact that its products are abundant in our diets. In turn, it plays a critical role in regulating cellular metabolism: animals lacking SCD1 are lean and protected from metabolic disease; and in human cohorts, increased SCD activity is associated with metabolic syndrome. These prior findings have rendered SCD a very attractive target for manipulation of cellular metabolism. Current investigations in our lab are focused on delineating the tissue-specific roles for this highly regulated enzyme and identifying novel roles in understudied tissues. To do this, we use unique transgenic mouse models developed in our lab, as well as primary and immortalized cell lines in culture. We use a combination of cell biological, biochemical, and molecular biology tools to address our questions related to regulation of lipid metabolism and its role in overall health.
Oxidative DNA damage and repair and implications to metabolic health
Oxidative stress, a normal cellular process that is exacerbated by aging or by consumption of sub-par diets, results in damage to DNA pools within the cell. Such oxidative DNA damage is repaired via the base excision repair (BER) pathway . We study how defects or enhancements in the BER pathway may be utilized to improve metabolic health and function of specific tissues such as muscle and adipose tissue, via modulation of mitochondrial health. By using novel transgenic animals and primary cells, a direct translational goal of these studies is to devise novel means to mitigate age-related losses in tissue function and metabolic fitness.
Figure title: Protein structure of 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (OGG1), an initiator of BER-mediated DNA repair Figure credit: wikipedia.org
We are a group of energetic and diverse individuals with a passion for understanding how nutrients and genetics influence overall health. Alumni from the lab have continued their careers both in academia and in the private sector. The lab is housed within the brand-new Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH). We are always interested in welcoming talented postdoctoral fellows and graduate and undergraduate students to the team.
PI: Harini Sampath
Lab Alumni and Current Positions
Camila Silva, GH Cook Scholar 2021, MS Student, University of Barcelona, Spain
Emmanuel Encarnado, GH Cook Scholar 2021, Research Associate Princeton University
Sai Santosh Babu Komakula, Ph.D. 2020, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Illinois-Chicago
Emely Fernandez, Sampath Lab undergraduate fellow in Biology and Mathematics, medical student, Rutgers University
Tasleenpal Akal, MS Nutritional Sciences 2020, Research Associate at Novartis
Gloria Awuku, Undergraduate RiSE Scholar 2018-2019, medical student, Rutgers University
Dr. Anupom Mondal, Post-doctoral fellow in Sampath Lab 2017-2019, Senior Scientist at Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Emmanuel Marfo, accelerated MS 2019, Medical student, Eastern Virginia Medical School
Jana Tumova, Ph.D., Post-doctoral fellow in Sampath Lab, 2016-2018, UT-San Antonio
Rohit Aita, Undergraduate Researcher and New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar, Genetics
Terianne Englis, GH Cook Honors Student
Stephen Argentina, Undergraduate Researcher, Food Sciences