PI Bio

Year Degrees Field of Study Institution
Formal Education
6/2002 BS Biochemistry University of Cincinnati
5/2007 MD Medicine Wright State University,
Boonshoft School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Training
6/2007-6/2012 Residency Pediatrics Riley Hospital for Children
Director: Jerry Rushton, MD.
7/2009-6/2011 Residency Project Fatty Liver Disease Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Mentor: Rohit Kohli, MD.
7/2012-12/2015 Fellowship Gastroenterology Boston Children’s Hospital
Director: Wayne Lencer, MD.
7/2013-6/2019 Fellowship Project Obesity & Metabolism Joslin Diabetes Center
Mentor: C. Ronald Kahn, MD.

Research Mentoring

My first exposure to basic science research was during my undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. During that time I worked in the labs of Joan M. Cook-Mills, Ph.D., and William J. Larsen, Ph.D. Before attending medical school, I worked (2002-2003) as a research assistant in the lab of Christopher Karp, M.D., at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). This experience solidified my desire to continue pursuing medical research as a physician scientist. During this time I met Senad Divanovic Ph.D., who continues to be my collaborator to this day.

Rohit Kohli, MD lab (2009-2011)

The clinical training of medicine does not offer many opportunities to be engaged in basic science research. After completing two years of pediatric residency at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University, I embarked on a two-year research project in the lab of Rohit Kohli, M.D., at CCHMC. In Rohit’s lab, I studied how insulin signaling mediates lipid accumulation in the liver. We also began seminal work implicating how the combined intake of sugar sweetened beverages and a HFD leads to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver fibrosis. The focus of my lab today continues to be how the combined intake of sugar and a HFD leads to the development of hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance. Rohit invested a considerable amount of his personal time to ensure not only that I successfully completed my basic science project, but also to position me well for my future fellowship training in Pediatric Gastroenterology (GI).  He encouraged me to become involved in Pediatric GI and liver societies (NASPGHN and AASLD) and mentored me to successfully apply for the prestigious Pediatric Scientist Development Program award, only about five of which are awarded in North America per year. Rohit was instrumental in fostering my development as a physician scientist. I consider him my first basic science mentor on a long road through academic medicine. During my time in Rohit’s lab, I also had the opportunity to be mentored by:

  •   Steven C. Woods, PhD., – Steve studied the effects of insulin, especially in the brain. He mentored me on writing of scientific manuscripts. He was an early riser and our biweekly meetings were scheduled for 5AM. I was not working in his lab, so early morning sessions worked best for both of us.
  •   Randy Seeley, PhD., – Randy ran a joint lab with Steve for several decades. Much of what I learned about running a lab came from participating in Randy’s Friday morning lab meetings.

Ronald Kahn, MD lab (2013-2019)

My love and expertise in metabolism developed in the laboratory of C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School. Working in Ron’s lab was a dream come true. Ron is truly a superb scientist and I feel privileged that I had the opportunity to learn from him.  Ron demystified what it takes to be successful in science.  The necessary ingredient is hard work, extreme dedication to science is a must, and having long-term mentors is essential. Ron often had his mentor Jesse Roth M.D., come to the lab and many stories began with the phrase “when I was in Jesse’s lab.” Additionally, Ron taught me that modern day questions cannot be answered using old technology. Ron encouraged us to use “multi-omics” approach in order to grasp the most complete understanding of the underlying process. When it comes to writing a manuscript, Ron has a very simple recipe. The results are 90% of the story and every piece of data must be clearly described. He encouraged us not to focus on the most interesting part of the data to us, but to describe everything that is there. The rest of the paper is filling in the blanks. The most impressive part of Ron’s mentoring is that he gave us the ultimate freedom to explore our scientific curiosity. His stance was that we are working for our future and his job is to mentor the ones who want to be guided. In Ron’s lab I learned how to think for myself, which is the greatest gift that a mentor can give. Being mentored by Ron gave me an opportunity to be exposed to world-class science.   During this time I also learned from:

  •   David E. Cohen, MD., – David helped mentor my studies of liver physiology since Ron’s lab’s expertise is in endocrinology. He was a member of my scholarship committee and continued to help me even after he moved from Boston to New York and I moved from Boston to Kentucky.  I am not sure that I wrote a single training grant without David providing a letter of support.
  •   Christopher B. Newgard, PhD., – Chris performed all metabolome quntifications for my studies in Ron’s lab. However, his main help was with interpreting these large data sets and how our results fit with previously published work. Chris has an incredible wealth of knowledge in cellular metabolism.

Clinical Mentoring

I was fortunate to be mentored by several outstanding physicians in the field of Pediatric Gastroenterology. My introduction to the field began during Medical School on my Pediatric GI Elective at Dayton Children’s Hospital. There I learned from:

  • Adam Mezoff, MD., – Introduced me to providing care to medically complex patients with a G-tube.
  • Ryan Carvalho, MD., – Showed me my first patient with elevated liver enzymes due to Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.
  • Sonia Michail, MD., – Opened the door to understanding a comprehensive management plan of patients with IBD.

During my Pediatric residency I was fortunate to be exposed to another group of outstanding Pediatric Gastroenterologist.

  • Jean P. Molleston, MD., – In spite of her admirable expertise in liver disease, she showed me my first patient with chronic appendicitis
  • Mark R. Corkins, MD., – Taught me various aspects of pediatric nutrition. Memorable quote “If I am making sense, I am doing my job.”
  • Joseph F. Fitzgerald, MD., –Taught me that to successfully care for patients with GI issues a physician must first care for the patient. 

When I moved to Cincinnati to do basic science research I attended Wednesday morning GI clinical conferences. Interestingly enough, I am still able to attend these conferences through a partnership between Kentucky Children’s Hospital and CCHMC. In this format, I had a pleasure of learning from:

  •  William F. Balistreri, MD., – I learned much about chronic hepatitis from Bill. Memorable quote: “Hospitals should have a sign on the front door saying that we can truly help only a fraction of our patients, but we have the potential to hurt everyone.”
  • Shahzad A. Saeed, MD., – Is a personal friend and the first one for me to break the barrier that often separates trainees from faculty.
  • Jorge A. Bezerra, MD., – He showed me by example that a balance between basic science and clinical care is possible, and that it can be a strength, rather than a distraction.

My Pediatric Gastroenterology training culminated at Boston Children’s Hospital, but my learning of pediatric gastroenterology is very much an ongoing process. I had the great privilege of learning from giants in Pediatric Gastroenterology such as:

  • John B. Watkins, MD., – Was my clinic preceptor during the first-year of my fellowship. I learned a bunch about pediatric nutrition from John.
  • Richard J. Grand, MD., – Was leading my scholarship committee and continues to provide ongoing mentoring even after fellowship.
  • Athos Bousvaros, MD., – One of the best clinicians that I have had the pleasure of working with. Memorable quote: “The difference between a good and great doctor is that great doctors always answer their patients’ phone calls. It’s that simple.”