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Osteo-Immunology and Integrative Physiology Laboratory

Supervisor: Alamelu Sundaresan     SB 312

Dr. Sundaresan’s lab: (from left to right) Elvis Okoro (Postdoc), Vivek Mann (Postdoc), Courtney Williams (undergraduate student), and Dr. Lalita Sundaresan.

Our main goal is to study human immunology in adverse environments, and what happens when the immune system is compromised such as in cancers, microgravity and auto immune conditions. We are also involved in bone tissue engineering, and Dr.Sundaresan holds three patents for growing human bone outside of the body. Sundaresan also works with nutritional supplements in human cells and animals to study their ability to enhance the immune system and prevent neurodegeneration. A second role takes the PI, Dr.Sundaresan to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School once a week, where she is an Assistant Professor of Surgery involved with inflammation, toxic and immune response. A third role for this whirlwind scientist is Visiting Scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Our most recent experiment for NASA was aboard the successful SpaceX-3 and Spacex-8 launch in April 2014 and 2016. All our projects involve international collaboration. For example, our students and Post docs have the opportunity to work and network with many key collaborators in Denmark, Norway, Brazil, UK and Germany to name a few.

Adult Retinal Pigmented Epithelial Cells exposed to simulated microgravity. Following exposure to simulated microgravity for 5 and 10 days a subset of ARPE-19 cells formed multicellular spheroids (MCS) (Right image) whereas the majority of the cells remained adherent (AD) (Left image).

My laboratory focuses on Biomedical and STEM research in Immune suppression, inflammation, bone biology, tissue engineering, cardiovascular biomarkers and nutritional immunomodulation. The specific areas we investigate are upstream targets in lymphocyte signaling in inflammation and immune suppression, adaptive genetic response gene suites in altered adverse physiologies, hyper gravity and high altitude stress, lymphocyte locomotion and signal transduction, bone tissue engineering and resorption models and cancer /toxicity models. We also have ongoing projects in Nano-formulation, nanotechnology and mathematical radiation tissue modeling of heavy ion effects. We have worked over the past several years to determine genetic response suites in human lymphocytes under microgravity analog conditions (mimics ageing and inflammatory states). Many molecules related to T-cell activation and second messengers, located both in the cell membrane and cytoplasm have been shown to be significantly altered under microgravity analog conditions. The wealth of information documented by these studies is very helpful to identify and explore immune and physiological adaptation in immune dysfunction and inflammatory disease states. These are extrapolable to immune dysfunction due to ageing and increased inflammation on earth. Nutritional immunodulation of the immune system was of great interest to investigate since immune dysfunction was key in our scope of work. Signaling and lymphocyte function augmentation with nucleotides and biological response modifiers such as pre and probiotics is another primary focus in the lab. Our funding sources are NASA, NSF and Industrial partners.

Recent publications:

1. Okoro E, Mann V, Ellis I, Mansoor E, Olamigoke L, Marriott KC, Denkins P, Williams W, Sundaresan A. Immune modulation in normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) (Lymphocytes) in response to benzofuran-2-carboxylic acid derivative KMEG during spaceflight. Microgravity Science and Technology. 2017 August; 29(4): 331-336. DOI: 10.1007/s12217-017-9551-z.

2. Sigrid Haugen, Jianying He, Alamelu Sundaresan, Astrid Kamilla Stunes, Kristin Matre Aasarød, Hanna Tiainen, Unni Syversen, Bjørn Skallerud, and Janne Elin Reseland. Adiponectin Reduces Bone Stiffness: Verified in a Three-Dimensional Artificial Human Bone Model In Vitro. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2018; 9: 236.


Full List of Published Work in My Bibliography:

Exciting excerpts: 1.

2. Dr. Sundaresan: Deutsche Welle radio interview on the Spectrum program in honor of Women’s day (March 8th 2018)

Topic: Where are all the women in science.


DW Media Center: