UNMC Header

New investigator: Karuna Rasineni, PhD

Image with caption: Karuna Rasineni, PhD

Karuna Rasineni, PhD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on Feb. 24 for UNMC's 2021 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

The New Investigator Award

The New Investigator Award is given to outstanding UNMC scientists who, in the past two years, have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New Investigator Award recipients also need to demonstrate scholarly activity, such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

  • Name: Karuna Rasineni 
  • Title: Assistant professor, UNMC Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine
  • Joined UNMC: 2010 
  • Hometown: Venkatadri Palli, Andhra Pradesh, India     

Research focus:   

  • Alcohol-associated fatty liver disease 
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
  • Aging and its effects on alcohol-associated fatty liver disease 

Research goal: The goal of my work is to employ metabolism-centric approaches to gain a more complete understanding of metabolic hormone (ghrelin, insulin, liver expressed antimicrobial peptide-2 and adiponectin) mediated alterations in multiple pathways and organ-interactions (gut, pancreas, adipose and liver axis) to promote the development of fatty liver diseases. 

Why is research important in the world today? Hepatic steatosis, characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, is the earliest and most common pathology during the development of the two most common chronic liver diseases, alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Both ALD and NAFLD are emerging public health issues globally. Nearly all patients with alcohol use disorder develop fatty liver. Additionally, about 100 million individuals in the United States are estimated to have non-alcoholic fatty liver which results from consuming a high fat/high sugar diet. Since fat accumulation is the "first hit" that leaves the liver more vulnerable to develop progressive liver injury, hepatic steatosis is a prime target for therapeutic intervention. Many times, liver transplantation is the only option available for treatment of patients with advanced liver disease. Therefore, studies that could lead to development of therapeutic strategies for treating fatty liver would be important and medically advantageous. 

My research will make a difference because: A better understanding of the role of hormone-mediated organ interaction in pathogenesis of fatty liver could help us to identify new therapeutic targets and strategies.   

The best advice I’ve ever received is: Let your work speak for you.  

Three things you may not know about me are:  

  • I come from a very large agricultural family in India with 14 first cousins. 
  • I like to listen to old Telegu melody songs. 
  • I like to visit a new pilgrimage city during annual trips to India.  

Ceremony set for Feb. 24

The 2021 Scientist Laureate and Research Awards ceremony will be held virtually on Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m.

Andre Kalil, MD, professor in the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine, has been named the 16th UNMC Scientist Laureate. Dr. Kalil will be honored, along with 25 other researchers recently named UNMC Distinguished Scientist, Research Leadership and New Investigator Award winners for 2021. The Community Service to Research Award winner, who also will be honored, will be named in February.

Other research awardees include:

Research Leadership:

  • Risto Rautiainen, PhD, UNMC College of Public Health
  • Polina Shcherbakova, PhD, Eppley Institute

Distinguished Scientists:

  • Laura Bilek, PhD, UNMC College of Allied Health Professions
  • Rebekah Gundry, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Peter Mannon, MD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Roslyn Mannon, MD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Russell McCulloh, MD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • DJ Murry, PharmD, UNMC College of Pharmacy
  • Aimin Peng, PhD, UNMC College of Dentistry
  • Moorthy Ponnusamy, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Prakash Radhakrishnan, PhD, Eppley Institute
  • Joshua Santarpia, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine
  • Paul Trippier, PhD, UNMC College of Pharmacy
  • Matthew Zimmerman, PhD, UNMC College of Medicine

New Investigators:

UNMC Wordmark