Nagaraj Kerur, PhD
Inflammation is an essential protective response to injury and infection, yet it also spawns pain and sickness. Nagaraj Kerur, DVM, PhD, studies how the body's natural defense system can damage cells, leading to degenerative conditions of the eye, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, as well as other chronic neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. This observation has immensely guided the Kerur laboratory’s strong interest in innate immunity for many years. With funding from the National Institute of Health, the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation, and the Alzheimer’s Association, he leads a lab to elucidate immune pathways involved in various diseases and to discover potential druggable targets in these immune pathways. There is common understanding that numerous serious health problems are attributable to chronic, uncontrolled, or inappropriate inflammatory response. Dr. Kerur believes that a better understanding of the immunological pathways activated during aging-associated inflammation will help us unravel promising therapeutic targets and new treatments for many human diseases.
Particularly, he and his research team are actively seeking to understand how the body’s own molecules become targets of the body’s immune system triggering an inflammatory response. Dr. Kerur’s laboratory employs a range of advanced molecular, genetic and biochemical tools in cell culture and models, such as CRISPR/Cas9 engineering, confocal microscopy, next generation sequencing, lentivirus and AAV gene delivery, flow cytometry, and in vivo ocular imaging. Research with intracellular nucleic acid sensing by innate immune pathways contributes to understanding how these pathways contribute to the development of disease (Kerur et al., Nat. Med 2018, Banerjee et al., Nat. Communication, 2021).