Dr. Christopher K. Glass Among Three UC San Diego Researchers Elected to National Academy of Medicine

Ferrara, Glass and Malinow join premier advisory group on national medical and health issues —

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) announced today the election of three new members from University of California, San Diego School of Medicine: Napoleone Ferrara, MD; Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD; and Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD. Election to NAM is considered among the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhDChristopher K. Glass, MD, PhD, is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Glass Lab Website

Why Typhoid Fever Is Human Specific: Dr. Ajit Varki and Coworkers Discover One Explanation

Typhoid Mary, Not Typhoid Mouse: Lack of enzyme explains why typhoid fever is a human-specific disease

The bacterium Salmonella Typhi causes typhoid fever in humans, but leaves other mammals unaffected.  Researchers at University of California, San Diego and Yale University Schools of Medicine now offer one explanation — CMAH, an enzyme that humans lack. Without this enzyme, a toxin deployed by the bacteria is much better able to bind and enter human cells, making us sick. The study is published in the Dec. 4 issue of Cell.

In most mammals (including our closest evolutionary cousins, the great apes), the CMAH enzyme reconfigures the sugar molecules found on these animals’ cell surfaces into a form that the typhoid toxin cannot bind. Humans don’t produce CMAH, meaning our cell surface sugars are left unchanged — and as this study shows, in a state just right for typhoid toxin attachment.

“We started this project looking at something completely different in relation to cancer, but serendipity instead helped us solve the mystery of what the typhoid toxin binds,” said co-senior author Ajit Varki, MD, Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego. “That’s the beauty of basic research — though we didn’t set out with the intent, these findings may now spur the development of new therapies for typhoid fever.” Varki co-directed the study with Jorge E. Galán, PhD, DVM, professor and department chair at Yale University School of Medicine. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Two from UCSD School of Medicine Named Members of the Institute of Medicine

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) today announced the names of 70 new members and 10 foreign associates during its 42nd annual meeting.  Included are two new members from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine: David A. Brenner, MD, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the UCSD School of Medicine, and Don W. Cleveland, PhD, chair of the UCSD Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and professor of medicine, neurosciences, and cellular and molecular medicine at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. David BrennerA translational researcher, Dr. David Brenner investigates the molecular pathogenesis of fibrotic liver disease and the genetic basis of  liver disorders. He is a member of the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine.  |  Read his academic biography

New Way of Fighting High Cholesterol Upends Assumptions

Atherosclerosis – the hardening of arteries that is a primary cause of cardiovascular disease and death – has long been presumed to be the fateful consequence of complicated interactions between overabundant cholesterol and resulting inflammation in the heart and blood vessels. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Christopher K. GlassSenior author of the study report is Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD, pictured at left, professor in the Departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

The other Department of Medicine coauthors on the study report are Andrew C. Li, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism; Sotirios Tsimikas, MD, FACC, professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; and Oswald Quehenberger, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Read the report of the study in Cell (full text UCSD only)

Citation of study report: Spann NJ, Garmire LX, McDonald JG, Myers DS, Milne SB, Shibata N, Reichart D, Fox JN, Shaked I, Heudobler D, Raetz CRH, Wang EW, Kelly SL, Sullards MC, Murphy RC, Merrill AH Jr, Brown HA, Dennis EA, Li AC, Ley K, Tsimikas S, Fahy E, Subramaniam S, Quehenberger O, Russell DW, Glass CK. Regulated accumulation of desmosterol integrates macrophage lipid metabolism and inflammatory responses. Cell 151(1):138-152, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2012.06.054

Sex Hormone Precursor Inhibits Brain Inflammation

UCSD scientists say molecule moderates condition linked to neurodegenerative diseases

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a steroid hormone that inhibits inflammation in the brain. The findings, to be published in the May 13 issue of the journal Cell, have implications for understanding the exaggerated inflammatory responses that are characteristic features of numerous neurodegenerative diseases. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD

Senior author of the study is Christopher K. Glass, MD, PhD (pictured above), Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Kaoru Saijo, MD, PhD, project scientist in the Glass laboratory, is the study’s first author.

Read the published study in Cell (free full text).

In the Media: Dr. Ajit Varki

Dr. Ajit Varki is one of a team of researchers whose recent study is described in the Wired article, “Rare Gene Glitch a Clue to Genomics Mystery.”

Ajit Varki, M.D., is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. He co-directs the UC San Diego Glycobiology Research and Training Center and the UC San Diego/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA). He is Associate Dean of the Physician-Scientist Training Program.