Alison Bloom Kohan, Ph.D.
Dr. Kohan completed her Ph.D. in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Graduate Program in 2009.
Advisor: Lisa M. Salati, Ph.D.
Doctoral Dissertation: "Mechanism by which dietary polyunsaturated fat regulates lipogenic gene expression"
Ali completed her Ph.D. in the summer of 2009. Her work established an important mechanism for intracellular regulation by dietary fat. She carried out her postdoctoral work with Dr. Patrick Tso at the University of Cincinnati and successfully obtained a F32 postdoctoral fellowship and a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the NIH. Ali is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University Connecticut.
Dr. Kohan's research program focuses on the role of apolipoprotein C-III in mediating inflammatory disease. The canonical role of apolipoprotein (apo) C-III is to inhibit lipid uptake by peripheral tissues and liver, stimulating hypertriglyceridemia. Her lab first reported that overexpression of human apoC-III in mice results in delayed dietary fat absorption and secretion of smaller chylomicrons.
Prior to this discovery, all other known effects of apoC-III were deleterious. Genetic variants in apoC-III exist, but there is only one family known to have a complete loss of apoC-III, suggesting a strong evolutionary pressure to retain apoC-III expression.
She and her lab have now determined that in addition to the delay in dietary fat absorption, apoC-III overexpression confers significant protection from colitis in mice (induced with dextran-sulfate sodium (DSS), and confers resistance to all associated pathologies including weight loss, colon shortening, macroscopic damage, and pro-inflammatory secretion of IL-17.
Major efforts in her research laboratory are focused on: (i) mechanism of apoC-III regulation of intestinal regulatory T cells (Tregs); (ii) the interplay between dietary lipid absorption-chylomicron secretion-and apolipoprotein expression and inflammatory bowel disease; and (iii) the influence of plasma lipoproteins, particularly triglyceride-rich lipoproteins with apoC-III, on intestinal lipid metabolism. The laboratory has extensive experience in intestinal lipid absorption, lipoprotein synthesis and secretion, plasma lipoprotein metabolism, and they developed the primary intestinal organoid model for the study of lipoprotein synthesis and secretion.
The overall goal of Dr. Kohan's research is to determine the mechanisms through which intestinal apolipoproteins impact disease in human populations, and the therapeutic implications of this physiology.