DUARTE,CA-Dr. Rama Natarajan is an Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Diabetes Complications and Metabolism at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte. She is an internationally renowned researcher nurturing new breakthroughs into diabetes, obesity, and their debilitating complications.
A major challenge in diabetes treatment is that despite good sugar control, many patients with diabetes continue to develop life threatening complications.”If you have had high sugar levels for many years, the damage has already been done even if you are taking your medication to keep your sugar down,” Natarajan states. She and her team of researchers are examining epigenetics in this “sugar memory” phenomenon. Unlike genetics,epigenetics is potentially reversible and understanding of this epigenome may help to elucidate the hidden causes of diabetes and its debilitating complications. Another key discovery being developed by Natarajan involves MicroRNA’s, which are unique molecules that play a critical role in diabetes and its complications. Her studies are focusing on how these molecules regulate the genes causing organ damage in diabetes, and in developing therapeutic approaches to block their actions. After earning her PhD at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, she fellowed at Salford University in England as well as the University of Southern California. Natarajan’s efforts over the last thirty years has earned her numerous awards. She also serves on the Editorial Board of “Diabetes”, the premier journal for diabetes research.She has trained numerous students in research, including those from the South Asian community.