Three DMPI faculty members awarded Distinguished Professorships

Duke University has awarded distinguished professorships to 22 faculty members, including three DMPI faculty. Rasheed Gbadegesin, MBBS, MD has been awarded the Wilburt C. Davison Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, Virginia B. Kraus, MD, PhD  the Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and  Deborah Muoio the George Barth Geller Distinguished Professor of Cardiovascular Disease. Distinguished professorships are awarded to Duke’s most distinguished faculty who have demonstrated extraordinary scholarship in advancing science and improving human health. Appointment to a named chair is the highest honor the University can bestow upon a member of its faculty.

Dr. Gbadegesin’s research is focused on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of nephrotic syndrome, and the biologic basis for disparity in its clinical course. In the last fifteen years, Dr. Gbadegesin and his team have identified at least eight new genetic causes and genetic risk factors for nephrotic syndrome and other chronic kidney diseases. In addition, he and his collaborators have continued to characterize the mechanisms by which these genes can cause nephrotic syndrome, and recently identified biomarkers of disease and pathways that may be targets of new therapy. His original findings and ongoing collaborations have significantly illuminated our understanding of the genetic architecture of nephrotic syndrome and have become foundational for ongoing meaningful and potentially transformative breakthrough in disease etiology, prevention, and treatment.

Projects in Dr Virginia Kraus’ laboratory focus on elucidating the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis, the most widespread of all arthritis and the most common arthritis with aging, and translational research to discover, validate and qualify biomarkers for early osteoarthritis detection, prediction of progression, and monitoring of disease status. This focus has led to analyses of limb tissue regeneration by proteomic methods (protein post-translational modifications) to understand and quantify limb tissue regenerative responses and to develop novel methods for cartilage regeneration and prevention and treatment of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. The lab is currently characterizing novel extracellular vesicle markers and their protein and RNA cargo to elucidate the biology underlying resilience, longevity and osteoarthritis.

Dr Muoio is viewed nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of diabetes, obesity, exercise physiology, and mitochondrial energy metabolism. Her laboratory focuses on delineating and understanding metabolic networks that maintain mitochondrial integrity and energy stability in cardiac and skeletal muscles. To this end, the laboratory has developed a sophisticated new platform for deep and comprehensive phenotyping of mitochondrial respiratory function and energy transduction. By combining this platform with powerful molecular profiling tools resident within the DMPI, the lab is uncovering new insights into mechanisms by which mitochondria modulate insulin action and cardiometabolic health. Recent studies have revealed a heretofore unrecognized vulnerability in the fat oxidation pathway that links heart failure to a metabolic bottleneck that can compromise mitochondrial bioenergetics. Ongoing work seeks to determine the specific causes and consequences of the bottleneck, and the role of ketones as an alternative fuel that can bypass and/or modulate the bottleneck to improve mitochondrial resilience. These studies are underway using mouse models and primary human myocytes harboring genetically-engineered manipulations in mitochondrial carbon trafficking.

Congratulations all on receiving this most well deserved and prestigious award! We celebrate your past accomplishments and look forward to many more.