“Medicine and biology are often driven by empirical observations. We want to ask more mechanistic questions, such as, ‘How do different cellular components work together to form cell machines’ or ‘What rules govern coordination between cell types in tissues?’ These questions sound simple, but the answers are complex.”
As Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Ravi Iyengar, PhD, oversees interdisciplinary research programs focused on understanding the origins and mechanisms underlying complex diseases and development of new therapeutics. The research activities of the faculty in the department fall into three broad areas: biochemistry and regulatory biology, applied mathematics and systems biology, and physiology and drug development.
Mount Sinai received a five-year grant from the transformative R01 program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the mechanisms underlying tissue integrity in kidney disease. Dr. Iyengar is one of three principal investigators who will use computer modeling and nanotechnology to rebuild a filtration device in the laboratory to simulate kidney function. Through their model, which will use mouse or human kidney cells, the research team will expand understanding of the mechanisms that control tissue functions.
Trained as a biochemist, Dr. Iyengar studies cellular signaling networks using both experiments and computer simulations. His laboratory is trying to understand how cell signals are routed and processed through networks within cells in order to discover new drug targets for complex diseases. The Iyengar Laboratory focuses on heterotrimeric G proteins that serve as communicators for the largest class of receptors that are targets of currently used drugs. The goal is ultimately to identify potential new drug targets and develop small-molecule drug candidates that could intervene in cellular processes that control the start and progression of complex diseases.
Dr. Iyengar serves as Director and Principal Investigator of the Systems Biology Center New York, which is supported by a five-year grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health. SBCNY brings together experts in biomedicine, mathematics, engineering, and computer science to work on understanding how disease impacts the heart and brain tissue functions on a holistic level. They use animal models and computer simulations to assess activity at the cellular and tissue levels to understand how drugs impact disease progression.
Dr. Iyengar received a master's degree in science from Bombay University and a PhD from the University of Houston. He continued at Houston, eventually rising to Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. In 1986, Dr. Iyengar joined Mount Sinai as an Associate Professor of Pharmacology. He received an appointment to Chair of the Department of Pharmacology in 1999. Two years later, he was named the Dorothy H. and Lewis Rosenstiel Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry. From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Iyengar served as the Dean of Research for Icahn School of Medicine. In 2004, Dr. Iyengar was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics
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