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Ajay Chawla , MD, PhD

Research Interests

The goal of my laboratory is to understand the mechanisms by which the innate immune system coordinates metabolism in health and disease states.  Over the last 8 years, my laboratory has been at the forefront of exploiting genetic tools to dissect the regulatory role of innate immune system in diet-induced obesity.  We have performed pioneering work in this area, specifically on the mechanisms by which alternatively activated macrophages regulate glucose and lipid metabolism.  While our initial efforts were focused on the importance of nuclear receptor signaling pathways in alternative macrophage activation, our recent efforts have focused on the upstream signaling pathways that direct alternative activation of macrophages in metabolic tissues.  Another area my laboratory is studying is the mechanism by which the innate immune system coordinates tissue regeneration in health and disease states.  The pioneering spirit of our work has been recognized by various organizations, allowing us to procure support from NIH (NIDDK-K08 and R01 grants; NHLBI-R01, NIH Pioneer Award), philanthropic foundations (Rita Allen Foundation, Culpepper Medical Sciences, ADA and AHA) and industry.

Selected Publications

  • Vats, D., Mukundan, L., Odegaard, J.I., Zhang, L., Smith, K.L., Morel, C.R., Greaves, D.R., Murray, P.J., Chawla, A. Oxidative metabolism and PGC-1 attenuate macrophage-mediated inflammation. Cell Metabolism, 4, 13-24, 2006.  
  • Odegaard, J.I., Ricardo-Gonzalez, R.R., Goforth, M.H., Morel, C.R., Subramanian, V., Mukundan, L., Vats, D., Brombacher, F., Ferrante, A.W., Chawla, A. Macrophage-specific PPAR controls alternative activation and improves insulin resistance. Nature, 447: 1116-20, 2007.
  • Odegaard, J.I., Ricardo-Gonzalez, R.R., Red Eagle, A., Vats, D., Morel, C.R., Subramanian, V., Mukundan, L., F., Ferrante, A.W., Chawla, A. Alternative M2 activation of Kupffer cells by PPARdelta ameliorates obesity-induced insulin resistance. Cell Metabolism, 6: 496-507, 2008.
  • Mukundan, L., Odegaard, J.I., Morel, C.R., Heredia, J.E., Mwangi, J.W., Ricardo-Gonzalez, R.R., Goh, Y.P.S., Red Eagle, A., Dunn, S.E., Awakuni, J.U.H., Nguyen, K. D., Steinman, L., Michie, S.A., Chawla, A. PPARd senses and orchestrates clearance of apoptotic cells to promote tolerance. Nature Medicine, 2009 Nov;15(11):1266-72.
  • 107(52):22617-22622.

CVRI Investigator

Research Theme

  • Hepatic Physiology and Metabolism

Contact Information

Other UCSF affiliations

  • Cardiovascular Research Institute
  • BMS Graduate Program



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