Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology Faculty

S. Ansar Ahmed, BVSc, PhD

S. Ansar Ahmed
Professor, Immunology
Associate Dean,
Research and Graduate Studies
Director,
Summer Veterinary Scholars Research Program
Professor,
Faculty of Health Sciences

View Dr. Ahmed's comprehensive biography, including his contributions to science through research and the training of graduate students.

Education

  • 1985 – 1987
    Leukemia Foundation of America Fellow
    The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • 1985
    PhD
    School of Veterinary Studies
    The Murdoch University, Australia
  • 1978
    DVM (B.V.Sc)
    University of Agricultural Sciences
    Bangalore

Administrative Experience

  • 2017 – present
    Associate Dean
    Research and Graduate Studies
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech

  • 2017 – present
    Head
    Biomedical Veterinary Sciences and Graduate Program
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech

  • 2017 – present
    Testing Facility Management
    Good Laboratory Practice Program
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech

  • 2008 – 2017
    Department Head
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech
  • 2006 – present
    Director
    Summer Veterinary Scholars Research Program
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech

    This is a college-wide program, funded by NIH-T35, Boehringer-Ingelheim, and the college to train DVM students from a national pool of applicants for research in biomedical sciences.

  • 2007 – 2008
    Interim Head
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech
  • 2002 – 2008
    Director
    Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (now renamed as the Center for One Health Research)
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech

    This is a college research center that focuses on infectious diseases and immunology research, and development of vaccines using animal models. The renamed center is a collaboration with the Virginia College of Osteopathic of Medicine to address the above areas using one health approach.

  • 2001 – Present
    Professor of Immunology
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech
  • 2014 – Present
    VT Faculty of Health Sciences, Translational Biology, Medicine, Biology and Health Program
    VT-Carilion Research Institute

Research Interests

The primary research interest in Dr. S. Ansar Ahmed’s laboratory is to investigate why the immune system launches a misdirected attack on self-tissues leading to devastating chronic autoimmune diseases, which afflict millions and costs billions in health care costs. Lupus is a prototypical autoimmune disease that also afflicts domesticated species, including dogs and cats. We employ various in vivo wildtype, gene knockouts, and transgenic lupus murine models to delineate pathogenic autoimmune mechanisms. Thus far, there are no effective cures for lupus. Therefore, our long-term goal is to develop innovative therapies for autoimmune conditions since current therapies (immunosuppressive drugs) have significant side effects.

Our laboratory is actively engaged in addressing the following two main central questions in autoimmune diseases.

  • First, why do autoimmune disorders occur preferentially in females? Our laboratory is nationally and internationally recognized in this area. We are actively identifying the underlying reasons for the female predominance of lupus and the contribution of estrogens (including synthetic and environmental) towards the risk for developing autoimmune diseases. In particular, we are investigating how hormonal factors (e.g., natural and environmental estrogens) alter signaling pathways, transcription factors, and gene activation events involved in the induction of inflammatory cytokines in murine models of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
  • Second, what is the role of epigenetics in lupus inflammation? We are investigating how epigenetics (microRNA, altered methylation, and acetylation) influences lupus and inflammation. microRNAs are naturally-occurring small RNAs that regulate the immune system in healthy and autoimmune individuals. We were one of the first laboratories to identify a signature expression profile of microRNAs in mice exposed to estrogen, and between sexes in lupus-prone mice. Importantly, select microRNAs have been shown to directly down-regulate inflammatory proteins. We are utilizing conditional miRNA knockout mice in lupus background to understand how they regulate autoimmune conditions. The identification of signature microRNA expression profile in autoimmune states is of prognostic, diagnostic, and therapeutic importance.

Dr. Ansar Ahmed also directs the DVM summer program to provide research experience opportunities for DVM students. More details are available at http://www.vetmed.vt.edu/research/svsrp/index.asp

Professional Experience

  • 2016 – Present
    Associate Dean
    Research and Graduate Studies
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech
  • 2014 – Present
    VT Faculty of Health Sciences, Translational Biology, Medicine, Biology and Health Program
    VT-Carilion Research Institute
  • 2008 – 2016
    Department Head
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech
  • 2001 – Present
    Professor of Immunology
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
    VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Immunologists
  • International Cytokine Society
  • OSSD
  • Phi Zeta Kappa Honor Society
  • Member of Grant Review Panels Served on 26 NIH study sections, and 12 National Foundation grant review panels, and several national-level research policy panels

Publications

View Ansar Ahmed's My Bibliography page

Recent Key Publications

  1. Dai R, Edwards MR, Heid B, Ansar Ahmed, S. 17beta-Estradiol and 17alpha-Ethinyl Estradiol Exhibit Immunologic and Epigenetic Regulatory Effects in NZB/WF1 Female Mice. Endocrinology. 2019;1160(1):101-18. PMID: 30418530. PMCID: PMC6305969.
  2. Wang Z, Heid B, Dai R* Ansar Ahmed, S.* Similar dysregulation of lupus-associated miRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and splenic lymphocytes in MRL/lpr mice. Lupus Sci Med. 2018;5(1):e000290. PMID: 30515297; PMCID: PMC6241985. *Corresponding author
  3. Thomas Brickler, Amanda Hazy, Fernanda Guilhaume Correa, Rujuan Dai, Elizabeth Kowalski, Ross Dickerman, Jiang Chen, Xia Wang, Paul Morton, Abby Whittington, Ansar Ahmed, S, and Michelle Theus. Angiopoietin/Tie2 axis regulates the age-at-injury cerebrovascular response to traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neuroscience. 2018; 38 (45): 9618-9634 PMID: 30242049 PMCID: PMC6222064, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0914-18.2018.
  4. Edwards MR, Dai R, Heid B, Cecere TE, Khan D, Mu Q, Cowan C, Luo XM, Ansar Ahmed S. Commercial rodent diets differentially regulate autoimmune glomerulonephritis, epigenetics and microbiota in MRL/lpr mice. International Immunology. 2017 Jun 1;29(6):263-276. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxx033. PMID: 28637300. PMCID: PMC5890898.
  5. Dai R*, Lu R, Ansar Ahmed S. The Upregulation of Genomic Imprinted DLK1-Dio3 miRNAs in Murine Lupus Is Associated with Global DNA Hypomethylation. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(4):e0153509. PMID: 27070142. PMCID: PMC4829153. *Corresponding author