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Vijaya Lakshmi Sundaram, MD/PhD student at the Joan C Edward School of Medicine was invited to present her research project as a Plenary Presentation of Research Excellence at the American Gastroenterological Association meeting during Digestive Disease Week in Washington DC on May 20, 2024. Her study, part of her PhD thesis project, was titled “Exosomes from high-fat diet-induced rat model of obesity mediate the regulation of Na-glucose co-transport (SGLT1) in intestinal epithelial cells.” The clinical reason for this research is based on the fact that West Virginia has the highest obesity rate in the country, and obese people are six times more likely to develop diabetes.

Diabetes results from too much sugar in the diet and Miss. Sundaram, for the first time, showed that fat cells in the body produce substances called adipose secretome-derived exosomes which directly cause the intestine to absorb more glucose in obesity. “Obesity and diabetes cause many of the diseases our patients suffer from including heart disease, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome,” said Sundaram “So better understanding how glucose is absorbed in the intestine in obesity to prevent diabetes is very important.” Miss. Sundaram’s thesis mentor, Dr Soudamani Singh, Associate Professor of Clinical and Translational Sciences, stated “Lakshmi’s research is truly cutting edge and has received a lot of interest from others in the field.” In addition to Miss. Sundaram’s recognition with the plenary presentation at DDW, she also received the AGA’s Student Research Abstract Award this year. Both of these honors are a first for medical students at JCESOM. “Lakshmi and Soudamani are perfect examples of the amazing homegrown next generation of biomedical scientists who have moved our research exponentially in areas critical to West Virginians,” said Uma Sundaram, MD, Vice Dean of Research and Graduate Education. Miss. Sundaram is from Putnam County, and she first joined JCESOM as a BS/MD student and subsequently was accepted into the MD/ PhD program.

Written by Jessica Kraschnewski, MBA, Recruitment and Marketing Specialist, JCESOM

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