Following his medical training in Pathology and Rheumatology at the National University of Singapore and the Singapore General Hospital in Singapore, Dr. Mohan undertook his doctoral thesis work focusing on the cellular immunology of lupus at Tufts University, Boston. His post-doctoral training had focused on the genetic analysis of murine lupus. As an independent investigator, his laboratory’s research efforts have concentrated on elucidating the cellular, molecular, and genetic players leading to murine lupus, with corresponding translational studies in human lupus. His more recent work has focused on translating findings from basic biology towards the early diagnosis of end-organ involvement in autoimmune diseases. Dr. Mohan’s ongoing studies are aimed at tapping leads from proteomic and metabolomic platforms to mine new biomarkers and targets in chronic rheumatic diseases.
In his recent tenure as an endowed Professor of Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Mohan held the MGee Chair in Arthritis Research and the Walter and Helen Bader Professorship in Autoimmunity. He currently holds the Cullen Distinguished Professorship at the University of Houston, in Houston, TX. Dr. Mohan is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Henry Kunkel Society. He has published >150 articles, largely in the area of autoimmune diseases.
Awards and Honors:
OMICs-driven research is exploratory in nature, and seeks to interrogate the entire molecular landscape, with the hope that key pathways or nodes that are aberrant in a disease could be uncovered through a comprehensive brute force screen. To date, comprehensive profiling using multiple “omics” platforms has yielded novel insights on a wide spectrum of diseases. These broad screens are very powerful and clinically useful because they:
- Help identify key molecules and pathways in a given disease – this not only augments our understanding of the disease, it may also point to novel targets for drug treatment.
- Help identify novel biomarkers for a given disease – these biomarkers can be used to identify diseases earlier and track disease progression non-invasively.
Listed below are key areas of research in MOHANLAB:
I. Identifying Novel Biomarkers for Diseases: Currently, 3 different platforms are being used in our laboratory to identify novel proteins or metabolites that may be present in the body fluids (e.g., blood, urine, stools, CSF, saliva, sweat) of patients with autoimmune diseases, including SLE (or lupus), arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis), diabetes and various forms of nephritis. These studies are paving the way towards the identification of clinically useful markers for longitudinal disease tracking, while also pointing to potential therapeutic targets. The 3 platforms being used include (a) antibody-based planar arrays, (b) targeted proteome screens using aptamer libraries, and (c) LC/MS and GC/MS based metabolomics screens to identify dysregulated metabolites in body fluids.
II. Molecular Studies of Lupus Nephritis & B-cells: Work in several laboratories, including ours, has shown that the genes for SLE (lupus) affect both the immune system (notably B-cells, T-cells and myeloid cells) as well as the kidneys. Several projects in our laboratory focus on molecules that play key functional roles in B-cells or within the kidneys. Ongoing projects include: (a) modeling human genes for SLE in animal models, using transgenic and CRISPR/CAS9 approaches, (b) studying the pathogenic role of selected proteins and metabolites in lupus nephritis, and (c) identifying protein markers of acute nephritis and chronic nephritis.
III. Testing Novel Targeted Therapeutics and Natural Products: Our laboratory has established several animal models of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, arthritis, nephritis, systemic sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. These have been very helpful in determining the therapeutic efficacy of pharmaceutical compounds targeted to specific molecular pathways within the kidneys or B-cells, as well as various natural products (including green tea EGCG, curcumin, rose hip, fish oil DHA/EPA, etc). We have successfully completed the first human clinical trial of one of these agents recently.
IV. Novel Exploratory Biomedical Projects: In collaboration with experts in the field, several novel projects have recently blossomed in the laboratory. These include:
- Testing of a novel drug target for cancer (Collaborator: Dr. R.E. Davis)
- Development of novel zebrafish models of autoimmunity (Collaborator: Dr. M. Bondesson)
- Development of novel biosensors for point-of-care monitoring so that patients can monitor various biomarker levels in their body fluids from the comfort of their home (Collaborators: Drs. R. C. Wilson and S. Prasad).
- Imaging of renal disease and skin disease non-invasively using cutting edge optical imaging platforms (Collaborators: Drs. K. Larin and W.C. Shih).
- Developing novel 3D models of heart diseases (Collaborator: Dr. R. Birla)
- Mathematical modeling of complex OMICs data (Collaborator: Dr. E. May)
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