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COLLEGE STATION, TX - Beiyan Zhou, Assistant
Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (VTPP)
at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences (CVM), recently received a $1.54 million grant
from The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases (NIDDK)-part of the National Institutes of Health-to study
the role of microRNA in diabetes. The grant, which is spread over
five years, comes soon after Zhou won a Junior Faculty Award from
the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
The award from the ADA, which is designed to provide support to
junior faculty who are establishing their independence as
researchers, will provide $120,000 per year for three years
(2013-2015) for the direct cost of research. Zhou's application was
supported by letters of recommendation from scientists at
institutions across the United States, including Harvey Lodish,
Professor of Biology and Professor of Biological Engineering at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Zhou's postdoctoral
advisor; Daniel Linzer, Provost of Northwestern University; Rajesh
Miranda, Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and
Experimental Therapeutics, Interdisciplinary Program in
Neuroscience at A&M; and Stephen Safe, Distinguished Professor
"Dr. Zhou is an outstanding member of our faculty, both in her
research and her mentorship of our graduate students," said Dr.
Eleanor M. Green, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. "We
congratulate her on earning these awards in recognition of her
outstanding research endeavors. Faculty members such as Dr. Zhou
continue to raise the bar of excellence in scientific discovery,
and we are fortunate to have her here at the CVM. Not only is her
work highly relevant, it is well-aligned with One Health, one of
the grand challenges for Texas A&M."
"Diabetes is one of the leading causes of mortality in the
United States and worldwide," said Zhou, who joined the CVM in
September of 2009.
"Most of the current insulin-sensitizers and anti-diabetic drugs
focus on improving diabetic symptoms, but not curing diabetes,"
Zhou said. "My long-term career goal is to provide the basis for
the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat insulin
resistance-related diseases, such as Type-2 diabetes."
"Dr. Zhou's novel approach to finding a solution for the
epidemic of diabetes is moving this type of research to a whole new
level," said Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary, Associate Dean for Research &
Graduate Studies at the CVM. "The future of scientific discovery
that addresses the ongoing health problems for people and animals
will be led by innovative researchers such as Dr. Zhou. We are
excited to see her efforts recognized through these highly
competitive grants and awards. We are proud to have her as a
faculty member, colleague and outstanding mentor for undergraduate
and graduate students."
Macrophages, which are an important and normal part of the
immune system, undergo a "distinct phenotypic switch," known as
macrophage polarization, from one that is anti-inflammatory in lean
tissues to one that is pro-inflammatory in obese tissues. This
inflammation can then cause trouble with insulin resistance, which
then, in turn, leads to Type-2 diabetes.
The polarization of macrophages in fat tissue is regulated by a
specific microRNA called microRNA-223 and by the protein Peroxisome
proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR -gamma), but the
interactions between the two, and just how they affect macrophages,
remains unclear. Zhou's research seeks to understand just how this
regulation happens, with the ultimate goal of perhaps being able to
regulate and stop the chain that leads to diabetes. Targeting the
microRNAs in macrophages to inhibit macrophage-mediated
inflammation could offer a novel approach to preventing or treating
insulin resistance and insulin resistance-associated diseases, such
as Type-2 diabetes.
"I'm so appreciative of all of the support I have received here,
both scientifically and from the department," Zhou said. One of the
criteria for the ADA award is institutional support.
Guoyao Wu, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Animal
Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Robert
Chapkin, Regent Professor in Department Nutrition and Food Science;
and Safe all supported Zhou in her application for the NIH
"I believe the strength and expertise of this team contributed
to the success of the funding," Zhou said. "I'm very proud to
receive the award."
For more information about the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our
website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook.
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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