Dr. Vijayalakshmi VenkatesanScientist ‘G’ & HoD,
Cell & Molecular Biology
Dr. Vijayalakshmi Venkatesan obtained her Ph.D in Biochemistry and is currently heading the Divisions of (i) Cell & Molecular Biology and (ii) Instrumentation of the institute. Her major areas of research include Nutritional Biochemistry and Stem Cell Research with focus on (i) Understanding the interaction between Nutrients and Stem cells in Beta cell health, (ii) Regenerative Research and Stem cells to address their therapeutic applications in the management of Diabetes, Obesity and Osteoarthritis.
Key research outcomes/milestones:
Nutrient & Stem cell Interactions: Her laboratory has shown for the first time the beneficial effects of Pyridoxal phosphate (Vit B6) and Retinoic acid (Vit A) in protecting β cells against frank diabetes. This has been evidenced by their insulinotrophic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects vis a vis increased turnover of stem cell pool with Pdx-1 expression to effectively negate STZ induced hyperglycemia. The findings advocate for important role of micronutrients (both genomic and non genomic) to circumvent the diabetic milieu to normalize islet/ β cell number and functions.
NCDs and Inflammation: Using WNIN-Ob and Gr-Ob Mutant rat model, her laboratory has pinned down on inflammation as the key pathophysiological lesion for the onset of metabolic insult including obesity, diabetes and osteoarthritis (adipose, pancreas and cartilage), where evidence has been documented for the altered cross talk between systemic and stem cell pool using multiple approaches.
Clinical/Tx- Applications of Stem cells in NCDs: Her lab has also shown for the first time the feasible applications of human Placental – Mesenchymal stem cells to negate obesogenic milieu (IR, IGT, inflammation) vis a vis preclinical diabetes, when administered intramuscularly to WNIN-Gr-Ob mutant rats. These findings open up as newer approaches against the conventional treatment in management of preclinical diabetes. MSCs are Immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory with paracrine functions. Her group has also shown that, theracytes can be used as an optimal delivery system for islets Tx, to maintain islet cell integrity and functions tested in pancreatectamized primate model (auto and allo). Further, the islets were viable inside the theracytes with insulin secreting functions followed up for a year without any immunosuppressants.
Foetal programming and DOHAD: Using embryonic stem cells as in vitro model, her team is trying to address the concept of DOHAD, essentially to recapitulate the developmental events, with Micronutrient (MN) deficiency vs supplementation.
Additionally, she has also been serving as Subject Expert & Task Force Member for ICMR & DBT constituted taskforces, Chairman/Member of Institutional Committee for Stem Cell Research for several institutes and hospitals in addition to discharging her duties across other important administrative responsibilities in the institute.