Hongxia Ren, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Hongxia Ren, PhD. is an Assistant Professor and a member of the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute at Indiana University School of Medicine (IU SOM).
Dr. Ren graduated with B.S. degree in Biology from Fudan University, Shanghai, China. She received her doctoral degree from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Her dissertation is titled "Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling during myogenesis". She did her postdoctoral training with Dr. Accili at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Dr. She is recipient of a pretigious NIH K99/R00 pathy to independence award and joined Indiana University School of Medicine in 2016.
Ren H*, Cook JR, Kon N, Accili D*. Gpr17 in AgRP neurons regulates feeding and sensitivity to insulin and leptin. Diabetes. 2015 Nov;64(11):3670-9 (Epub 2015 Jul 15). (* Co-corresponding author)
Ren H, Orozco IJ, Su Y, Suyama S, Gutiérrez-Juárez R, Horvath TL, Wardlaw SL, Plum L, Arancio O, Accili D FoxO1 Target Gpr17 Activates AgRP Neurons to Regulate Food Intake. Cell. 2012 Jun;149(6):1314-1326.
Titles & Appointments
- Adjunct Assistant Professor of Cellular & Integrative Physiology
- Assistant Professor of Stark Neuroscience Research Institute
The overarching goal of Dr. Ren’s research program is to understand the molecular and genetic mechanisms of homeostatic regulations critical for feeding and glucose metabolism. Dr. Ren and fellow lab members aim to elucidate the pathophysiology of metabolic and neurological diseases with a combination of cutting-edge neuroscience, cellular, molecular, and genetic methodologies.
Obesity is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Finding novel and effective biochemical pathways to target organs and processes involved in the pathophysiology of these conditions has acquired new urgency. Feeding behavior and energy expenditure are under the control of the hypothalamus, where neuronal circuits integrate internal signals, sensing food absorption and energy storage, and sending signals to regulate energy expenditure. Disruption of these mechanisms in the central nervous system leads to metabolic disease. Moreover, brain regulates peripheral metabolism via autonomic nervous system. Therefore, the brain presents an attractive tissue to target for the development of novel therapies for diabetes and obesity.
Current research programs in the lab involve investigating how central nervous system (CNS) communicates with peripheral tissues in order to maintain the metabolic homeostasis, such as profiling of hypothalamic neuronal populations, functional mapping of neural circuitry, and characterizing the neuronal signaling properties of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs have been proven to be the most successful class of druggable targets, being 30-50% of the target of all FDA approved medication in the market. We have generated genetic mouse models for the following studies with the aims for developing novel therapeutics for neurological and metabolic diseases.
1) The function of central GPCR signaling in feeding and metabolic regulation.
2) Investigate the novel neuronal mechanisms critical for the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Ren has served as reviewer for journals - Nature Communications, Diabetes, General and Comparative Endocrinology, Frontiers in Neuroendocrine Science, Science Report, Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry. Dr. Ren has engaged in training undergraduate and medical students for basic scientific research at Indiana University School of Medicine.
American Diabetes Association
Society for Neuroscience
Desc: Pathway to Independence Award
Org: Columbia University
Desc: Naomi Berrie Fellowship
Org: American Diabetes Association
Desc: ADA post-doctoral fellowship
Org: Keystone symposia NID/NIDDK
Desc: travel award