Raghu Mirmira, MD, PhDLilly Foundation Professor in Pediatric Diabetes, Department of Pediatrics
Professor: Pediatrics, Medicine, And Cellular & Integrative Physiology
Director: Medicial Scientist Training Program
Director: Basic Diabetes Research Group
Grad program: Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Research Group Website: Diabetes
Current Research Interests:
It is widely known now that the prevalence of diabetes has been rising to alarming rates in the United States. The American Diabetes Association reports that almost 21 million Americans (7% of the US population) have diabetes. The pathophysiology of diabetes is complex, but it is clear that defects at the level of the insulin-producing islets underlie the development of the disorder in nearly all forms of diabetes. Thus, my laboratory focuses on the regulation of gene transcription during pancreatic islet development, function, and survival. The projects in my laboratory fall into three main categories:
- the role of homeodomain transcription factors, basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, and PPAR-gamma during the development of islets and the pathogenesis of islet dysfunction in type 1 and type 2 diabetes,
- the interrelationships between chromatin structure and gene transcription in the mature islet, and
- the role of post-transcriptional mechanisms in cytokine-mediated islet dysfunction.
We believe that intervening at any of these three stages in the islet life-cycle (development, function, and survival) will allow for the development of new sources of islets for the treatment of diabetes. Toward this effort, my lab has also engaged in translational work that would bring new therapies developed by us or our collaborators into the clinic to treat patients with diabetes. These areas of research include:
- bench and bedside testing of new inhibitors of the islet inflammatory intermediates (including 12-lipoxygenase, lisofylline, and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A)
- proteomics-based approaches to discovering biomarkers that identify or predict the occurrence of microvascular complications in patients with diabetes.
Dr. Raghu Mirmira received his bachelor's, MD, and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. His interest in diabetes began in his PhD years, during which time he studied how insulin binds to cells to effect its actions. His PhD dissertation work recognized as one of the four best dissertations submitted throughout the entire institution, resulting in his receiving the Marc Perry Galler Award.
After completion of his MD/PhD degrees, Dr. Mirmira subsequently completed his residency in Medicine and subspecialty training in Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of California at San Francisco. During his fellowship, Dr. Mirmira did his research training in the laboratory of Michael German, where he studied how insulin-producing beta cells form during development in the embryo. During this time, Dr. Mirmira received the prestigious Physician Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and later a Research Career Award from the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Mirmira then joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in 2000. Since joining UVA, Dr. Mirmira has been studying how other cells in the body could be "reprogramed" to produce insulin, and thereby serve as surrogate beta cells for individuals with diabetes. He studies several transcription factors that direct the development and function of beta cells, including Nkx6.1 and Pdx1. In addition, his research has more recently focused on how chromatin structure might be modulated during the course of development to allow cells of the pancreas to differentiate into beta cells. He has received donor support and multiple grants for his research, including the Thomas R. Lee Career Development Award from the American Diabetes Association, NIH R01 grants, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation awards. His research successes were acknowledged nationally when he was one of only 9 medical researchers in the country (and the only diabetes researcher) to receive the Discovery Health Channel Medical Honors Award, which was bestowed at a gala event at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Mirmira is currently the Eli Lilly & Co. Chair in Pediatric Diabetes and Director of the Pediatric Diabetes Research Group at Indiana University in Indianapolis. Dr. Mirmira serves as a member of the Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases B Subcommittee of the Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Initial Review Group, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Health.
Dr. Mirmira joined the Wells Center March of 2008. He currently has a research lab of 8 scientists, including physician and PhD fellows, and graduate students. He also sees patients with diabetes in a weekly clinic, teaches in the Indiana School of Medicine, and is an editor of the journal Diabetes.