Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai
National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology
During my clinical training at Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai, I took the first plunge into research by conducting some small-scale studies with the clinical material that was available and the insights derived from it convinced me to pursue the research path. Nevertheless, at that time I was unsure of what particular problem I should spend my time on. Later, during my internship in the Dept of Medicine and while attending the ICU, I encountered several patients with coronary atherosclerosis who had adverse clinical outcomes such as heart attack despite having near-normal cholesterol levels. This was the time when the conventional understanding that atherosclerosis is a cholesterol-storage disease was being challenged and several new pieces of evidence linking inflammation as a major driver of atherosclerosis emerged. Although, this paradigm shift opened up several novel therapeutic strategies, there were multiple gaps in our understanding of the mechanistic basis of atherosclerosis progression mediated by inflammation. In a rather amateurish way, I set out to solve this puzzle.
That conviction led me to enroll for the PhD program at the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, where I focused my energy on understanding macrophage biology, a cell of the innate immune system and a key player in driving inflammation in atherosclerosis. Following PhD, I pursued postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Ira Tabas at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, wherein I diversified my training in cell biology to animal models of atherosclerosis to gain fundamental mechanistic understanding. Here, I became particularly interested in exploring how impairments in phagocyte-mediated clearance of dead cells (efferocytosis) leads to failed inflammation resolution and progression of atherosclerosis.
After training for 6 years at Columbia University, NY, I accepted a faculty position at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi. Here, my lab runs on the model where clinically relevant questions arising from large epidemiological studies of cardiometabolic disease are addressed mechanistically using a combination of clinical samples, cellular models, and animal models of disease. My intermediate fellowship specifically aims to address the question of how macrophages talk to other cell types (intercellular communication) to promote resolution of inflammation. We believe that mechanistic understanding of this process can lead to novel therapeutic strategies in atherosclerosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases.