Dr. Nader G. Abraham named vice dean for research at School of Medicine

Monday, Oct. 8, 2012
Leah Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713 

Dr. Nader G. Abraham named vice dean for research at School of Medicine
International researcher brings NIH grants and team of researchers to medical school


Dr. Nader G. AbrahamNader G. Abraham, Ph.D., Dr. H.C., FAHA, an internationally-recognized researcher in the field of obesity and vascular disease, has been named the inaugural vice dean for research at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, President Stephen J. Kopp and Dean Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., announced today.  

Several members of Abraham’s research team will begin their official duties on Nov. 1, with the entire research operation in place in early 2013.

Abraham currently serves as chairman and professor of the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College Of Medicine. He is also affiliated with New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., The Rockefeller University in New York and University of Catania in Italy.

“Dr. Abraham brings to Marshall University and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine exceptional experience and a proven track record in advancing successful grant-funded research. Put simply, he is a research catalyst,” Kopp said. “He is especially adept in fostering clinical translational research and building successful interdisciplinary research teams, attributes that will be of great benefit to our entire university. He most certainly will complement our efforts to expand applied research activities that yield commercially-viable discoveries.”

“This is a great day for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Marshall University. Dr. Abraham is one of the preeminent biomedical researchers in the world, and his joining our faculty raises our profile immediately,” Shapiro said.

He continued, “Dr. Abraham has the unique and remarkable ability to energize and inspire others. This is illustrated by the group of scientists that will be coming with him. Recruiting any of these individuals on their own would be considered a terrific accomplishment for our school. I truly believe that Dr. Abraham is a key recruitment that will give Marshall University a significant leap forward toward becoming a premier biomedical research institution.”

Widely recognized for his research on vascular disease, which is a prelude to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases including hypertension, stroke, diabetes and obesity, Abraham and his team of researchers specifically study heme oxygenase, the most potent anti-oxidant gene in the human body. The team’s research also includes ways to speed up the implementation of laboratory findings into clinical therapeutic strategies for patients, i.e., translational medicine.

“I’m very excited about joining the faculty at Marshall University,” Abraham said. “I will be focusing on translational research projects in collaboration with the clinical departments, which will be an exciting experience for our medical students. I very much enjoy working with outstanding clinicians with little basic science experience and seeing them evolve into translational researchers. Truly, Marshall offers a unique opportunity to achieve these goals.”

Abraham is currently the principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants focusing on stem cells-heme oxygenase, hormonal regulation of blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Over his 30-year-plus career, Abraham has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on grants or projects totaling more than $17.3 million. As project leader for a program project in pharmacology, he has worked on five grants with total NIH funding of more than $60 million, bringing his total career grant support to more than $77 million.

Several career highlights for Abraham include the following leadership positions:

  • 1996, chairman of the Society of Hematology and Stem Cells;
  • 2000, chairman of the 1st International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, New York;
  • 2002, chairman of the International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, Italy;
  • 2005, chairman of the International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, Japan; and
  • 2007, chairman of the International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, Poland.

Over his career, Abraham has received dozens of awards including the following:

  • National Institute of Health, Research Career Development Award;
  • Dr. David M. Ovitz Lecturer Award, University of Calgary, Canada;
  • Distinguished Professor Award, University of Saskatoon, Canada;
  • Dean’s Distinguished Award for Stem Cell Research, University of Catania, Italy;
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Pharmacy, University of Catania, Italy;      
  • Dean’s Distinguished Award, New York Medical College, New York; and
  • Honored Professorship, Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. 

He has served as an invited lecturer internationally, including in China, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Copenhagen, Czech Republic and Poland. He is the author or co-author of more than 300 original articles and has mentored numerous postdoctoral and graduate students.  He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association.

Abraham brings to the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine a team of researchers including the following individuals: 

  • G. Drummond, Ph.D., a former associate professor at Rockefeller University and an expert in heme oxygenase who pioneered the use of metalloporphyrins to inhibit bilirubin production, and has more than 20 years of clinical trial experience in preventing jaundice in newborn infants.
  • D. Kim, Ph.D., a researcher in human stem cells;
  • K. Sodhi, M.D., a researcher in hypertension associated with obesity and diabetes;
  • S. Monu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow who works on the expression of an endogenous antioxidant;
  • M. Maheshwari, a doctoral student; and,            
  • M. Choi, a lab assistant.

Abraham earned his Ph.D. in 1976 from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He spent his postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University, where he discovered and isolated the rat and human heme oxygenase gene responsible for the over-production of bilirubin in newborn infants, which manifests as jaundice. In early 1982, he developed inhibiters of heme oxygenase for the prevention of jaundice with his mentor Dr. A. Kappas, former vice president of The Rockefeller University and physician-in-chief.

In 1977, he became an associate scientist at New York Medical College in New York. He initiated the college’s first program project on heme oxygenase in 1985. During his time there, he was promoted to the rank of professor with tenure in medicine in 1993.

Abraham was named a visiting professor of medicine at New York University in 1993, at which time he also continued his affiliation with The Rockefeller University as a visiting scientist.

In 1996, he re-joined New York Medical College as a professor in the departments of pharmacology and medicine and also served as director of the stem cell and gene therapy program.

In 2009, while maintaining affiliations with both the New York Medical College and The Rockefeller University, Abraham was named chairman and professor of the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College of Medicine.  During his tenure as chair of the department at Toledo, NIH and pharmaceutical support increased from $2.5 million to more than $7 million in less than four years.