Sundararajan Jayaraman

    Email Address:
    College: Medicine Department: Surgery
    Secondary Department: Microbiology and Immunology
    Title: Clinical Associate Professor
    Office: COMRB 8134 Phone: 312-996-1831
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    Epigenetics of human autoimmune diseases

    I have been studying the epigenetic mechanisms involved in autoimmune diseases in patients as well as in mouse models of human diseases.

    Over the years, I have been investigating epigenetic modulation of the genome, changes in gene expression without altering the DNA sequence, to ameliorate selected diseases by using two approaches in mouse models: adult stem cell transfer and pharmacologic intervention.

    I have recently demonstrated that adult stem cells derived from mice that do not develop autoimmune diabetes can afford protection against the disease subsequent to transfer into susceptible mice. The current goal is to evaluate whether this approach will also be useful to ameliorate multiple sclerosis in a mouse model. High throughput analysis of the whole genome will provide significant insights into the nature of alteration of gene expression mediated by transferred adult stem cells that prevent these diseases. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction is routinely utilized to validate the changes in gene expression unraveled by microarray analysis. Future work will address how the selected set of up- and down-regulated genes can contribute to the amelioration of diseases.

    The second major interest is to understand the epigenetic mechanisms involved in the amelioration of autoimmune diabetes as well as multiple sclerosis in mice by pharmacologic intervention, recently demonstrated by us. Use of throughput technologies, computational analysis, and validation by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction in conjunction with animal models will improve our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms involved in these diseases.

    Accumulating evidence indicates a crucial role for non-coding RNAs including the microRNAs in controlling the transcription of several genes. It is my goal to elucidate the epigenetic modulation of microRNAs using a small molecule inhibitor of histone deacetylases, associated with the amelioration of autoimmune diabetes and multiple sclerosis in mouse models. Collectively, these studies are anticipated to yield novel information on biomarkers for the diagnosis of these diseases and provide cellular and molecular targets for the development of novel strategies and drugs for treatment of autoimmune diseases.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 3

    Qualifications of a Student:
    I am looking for biology/chemistry major students with a strong GPA and truly interested in learning epigenetic research using cutting edge technologies in clinically relevant disease models. Commitment of a minimum of 3 hour per week will be ideal for 1 credit.

    To apply, you must be highly motivated and committed for excellence in scientific research regardless of the time planned to be spent in the lab. Importantly, you must be good in communication and like the scholarly and challenging atmosphere.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    If selected, you will work in a large lab shared by a number of investigators studying various scientific problems. It is essential to work in an atmosphere where a number of students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, and clinical fellows work together to solve important problems. You will work closely with me to get an exposure to all of the basic techniques that are currently used in the laboratory. I will also train you in setting up experiments independently to obtain data and to process them subsequently. If your schedule permits, you may also attend various meetings held in our department.

    The experience that you will gain will lead to an appreciation of the scientific research using cutting edge technologies. Based on your level of enthusiasm and commitment, this brief exposure may inspire you to pursue graduate education. This short exposure may even lead you to pursue other avenues of research such as computational analysis. Most of all, you will leave with an experience of having worked in a research project that may impact the future health care industry.

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