The University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville is home to outstanding physicians and professors whose research has contributed to the advancement of medicine and patient care. In recognition of this, we are highlighting the important work and its impact on the lives of our patients.
From the genesis of his career, Arshag D. Mooradian, MD, a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, understood the key role of research as the engine that drives change in medicine and better outcomes for patients. Driven by that, Mooradian, an endocrinologist, came to UF in 2006 with an aim to equip the next generation of health care leaders by helping build a strong department.
“This was a growing environment,” Mooradian said. “I saw an opportunity to do things on a larger scale. In my time here, we have done that and the best is yet to come.”
Dedication to research
While fostering an environment that supports research for all faculty in the department of medicine, Mooradian never neglected his own research interests. He has dedicated more than 30 years of his career to exploring ways to reduce the complications associated with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 122 million Americans are living with diabetes or are prediabetic. The leading complication of diabetes is cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Motivated by this, Mooradian has focused his research efforts on understanding the role of apolipoprotein A1 (or ApoA1) as a determinant of cardiovascular risk in diabetics. This particular protein is a component of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, better known as good cholesterol. It’s opposite to ApoB, a component of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, identified as bad cholesterol. In particular, Mooradian and other researchers have used medications and dietary interventions to target a component of ApoA1 gene that increases the amount and quality of the ApoA1 protein available in the body. Given that the ApoA1 protein is cardioprotective, these increases help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes.
Mooradian stresses this type of research requires collaboration, working alongside many other leading scientists and physicians to conduct research, including Michael Haas, PhD, and Norman Wong, MD.
Currently, Mooradian is researching how targeting another aspect of cardiovascular disease in diabetics called cellular stress pathways can potentially reduce the risk of disease.
“The next step is to take these basic science findings and start clinical trials. There are already therapeutic agents in the pipeline to test this hypothesis,” Mooradian said.
While he has published more than 500 peer-reviewed manuscripts and was recently recognized by Expertscape for being in the top one percent of scholars writing about ApoA1, Mooradian emphasized how the work impacts patient care is most rewarding.
Alexander Parker, PhD, senior associate dean for research affairs at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, points out the sensibility from leaders like Mooradian embodies the mission of research at the college.
“We are not in the business of research to push individual accolades. We do not engage in ‘bench to bookshelf’ research,” Parker said. “Our mission is clear and deeply important. We develop innovative ideas and test hypotheses that move medicine forward, change health care for the better, help improve the lives of our patients and enhance wellness in our community.”
Evolution of education
As more medical discoveries are unearthed each year, Mooradian notes medicine is a field where learning never stops. That idea is the foundation of his teaching style, often crediting his students for strengthening his own skillsets. Mooradian emphasizes the key to teaching is fostering a healthy exchange between students and instructors.
“The highest level of learning is teaching someone else. Our students gain knowledge from us, but as instructors, we should also be looking to learn from our students,” Mooradian said. “That’s why I enjoy teaching and work daily to be a bank of knowledge for our students and residents.”
There are two principles Mooradian advises his residents to grasp – humility and collaboration. He believes humility in health care requires a medical student or practicing physician to understand that they don’t have all the answers, and that’s OK. Once they adopt that idea, they can effectively work with colleagues to find solutions. Mooradian also encourages residents to collaborate, engage and rely on assistance from team members to give the best possible care.
“As a resident, I learned so much from the nursing staff, attending physicians and others who were actively caring for patients. If medical students learn how to utilize the expertise of everyone delivering care, they are on the right path,” Mooradian said.
Vision for the department of medicine
Mooradian aims to expand the department of medicine by increasing the amount of research conducted and recruiting faculty who will bolster academic and research efforts. He is confident the department is on course for continued success and is optimistic about what lies ahead. The chair also expects the department to act as a key player in further expanding services UF Health offers in the region.
“As more clinical facilities open, this department will play a critical role in delivering high-quality patient care because of the multiple subspecialties we provide,” Mooradian said.
In addition to his dedication to research and education, Mooradian has a love for travel and has visited more than 600 cities around the world. When he's not traveling, he takes an interest in studying the world’s religions.
The UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville has attained national leadership for its transformative, cutting-edge research. Among physicians and scientists, the institution is known for fostering a rich, collaborative environment that fuels discovery and encourages creativity. Research is centered around changing lives. Visit med.jax.ufl.edu/research for more information.
Chair, Department of Medicine
Senior Associate Dean for Research