Ritu Chakravarti

Positions

overview

  • I am a New Investigator with demonstrated expertise and passion for studying pathologies associated with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and vasculitis. The current focus of the Chakravarti Laboratory is cytokine Signaling in arthritis and its related pathologies.  The primary protein of interest that we study is called 14-3-3z, which is an intracellular protein with well-known adaptor functions.  We first identified a new auto-antigenic property of 14-3-3z (Arthritis & Rheumatology-2015). My experience examining adaptor proteins (Proc Natl Acad Sci-2010, JBC-2012, FRBM-2015, Structure-2015, JBC-2018) enabled me to pose fundamental questions to understand how this protein operates in the context of an autoimmune disease. As such, I developed this theme in my laboratory. Some of the highlights of our contributions include the following (1) characterizing how exogenous 14-3-3z can skew human T cell polarization ex vivo and identifying unique epitopes that contribute to its specificity (PLoS One-2017, Front Immunol-2019, J Mol Med-2020), (2) demonstrated that 14-3-3z is uniquely essential for IL-17 receptor signaling to induce IL6 but negatively regulates CXCL1. This unique regulation requires interactions of TRAF proteins with 14-3-3z, which has functional consequences on IL-17A signaling (Proc Natl Acad Sci-2020, Immunobiology-2021).

    My laboratory developed a novel CRISPR-Cas9-edited deletion rat model of 14-3-3z and demonstrated that 14-3-3z is essential to curb the severity of arthritis and strongly prevent inflammation-associated bone loss (Proc Natl Acad Sci-2021). The project has resulted in one successful US patent application and attracted significant media attention from 60 news outlets, including BBC world news radio. This underscores the importance of our work to millions suffering from inflammatory arthritis in the world and, more importantly, ignites my curiosity to understand the mechanisms governing protection from bone loss and joint inflammation. Given that we have received very encouraging feedback from the RA community worldwide, we are determined to invest in it and bring it to clinical trials for the relief of millions.

     My research has been funded by ODH, AHA, Vasculitis Foundation, and CSTCR grants. I am currently working to obtain more funding from NIH and DOD.

     In addition to collaborative research, I have strong education and service components. I have trained more than 15 post-graduate students, nine medical students, and three technicians in lab research and management. I am currently course director of ‘Cellular Signaling’ in College of Graduate Studies, ex-director of Molecular medicine graduate track, ex-coordinator of Pre-Med Summer Camp at College of Medicine & Life Sciences, and coordinator of ‘Training Leaders Club’ at the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology. Also, I teach cellular signaling to 1st year and physiology to 2nd-year medical students. 

     Overall, I am a curious researcher and an engaging teacher.

selected publications

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  • Ritu Chakravarti

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Cumulative publications in Scholars@UToledo