Van Es 114 (lab) and 114A (Office)
- Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
- Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiological Sciences (2012 - present)
- Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2004-2012)
- Research Immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco (2002-2004)
- NIH Postdoctoral Fellow athe University of California, San Francisco (2000-2002)
- Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (1998-2000)
My educational path began with a biochemistry undergraduate program steeped in molecular biology laboratory research followed by extensive investigation in small proteins regulating immunity through pro-inflammatory (doctoral training) and anti-inflammatory (postdoctoral training) mechanisms. My graduate studies were focused on the pro-inflammatory enzyme called phospholipase A2 in macrophage and kidney cells, while my postdoctoral tenure dealt with the anti-inflammatory neuropeptide, called vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), in T cells. I was awarded an NIH postdoctoral fellowship (F32) that allowed me to gain valuable experience and knowledge on the VIP signaling axis by performing biochemical, cellular, immunological and in vivo studies. In 2004, I began my independent research career at North Dakota State University (NDSU). At NDSU, I received NIH funding through a mentored KO1 award, ARRA supplemental funding, a COBRE P20 mechanism and two R15 grants, respectively. My laboratory has trained 5 Ph.D. students and 51 undergraduates, most of which are either employed or have matriculated into well-known graduate or medical school programs. Students at all levels conducting research in my laboratory experience hands-on laboratory research in an environment that encourages them to become passionate in scientific discovery in an ethical, hard-working and curious-driven manner.
Obesity afflicts more than 1.4 billion people worldwide, is associated with comorbidities such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease and will cripple our health care system in the coming years by costing billions of dollars for treatment. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a gut hormone, which is elevated in obese humans. A recent report showed the VIP signaling axis is the most prevalent observed molecular pathway out of 963 analyzed to predispose humans to obesity development. Unfortunately, the mechanistic pathways linking VIP signaling to obesity are currently unknown and represents a critical need for investigation. Without mechanistic understanding of these pathways, improved intervention protocols, as well as preventive strategies to mitigate obesity, will elude the medical community leading to half of our population being at risk from premature death. It is the objective of this proposal to collect mechanistic data that link obesity and VIP signaling. We hypothesize that alteredVIP signaling contributes to hallmarks of obesity, including changes in metabolism, immunity and the gut microbiota. Successful implementation of our research is expected to show that VIP signaling plays important roles in obesity development by regulating fat deposition, abnormal inflammation and altered gut microbiome composition promoting human obesity and leading to associated human disorders. The Dorsam Research Group will also educate students in a hypothesis-driven, ethically-sound, interdisciplinary training environment aimed at preparing them for highly competitive scientific careers.