Dr. Abid Kazi is a postdoctoral scientist who recently completed his PhD training in the lab of Professor Charles Lang at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA. Here Kazi’s research investigates the mechanisms underlying sepsis-induced muscle tissue loss and he has recently published some of his findings with Lang – as first author of a paper in the journal Shock. His publishing record with the Lang group now stands at 5 papers and he is expecting several more in the near future.
Protein synthesis is an energy consuming process and as such is tightly regulated. Whilst other steps are important in regulating protein synthesis, the key step occurs at the level of mRNA translation initiation. That being said, mRNA translation is primarily regulated by the upstream kinase mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin aka mechanistic target of rapamycin). mTOR is dysregulated in cancers and other metabolic diseases. My research has involved knockdown of PRAS40 and DEPTOR – two mTOR binding proteins in regulation of protein synthesis in myocytes.You are currently researching the relationship between mTOR activity and sepsis -induced muscle atrophy; can you tell us more about it and sum up why this research is important?
Our lab is interested in the regulation of protein synthesis in muscle from the point-of-view of muscle wasting; we study the modulation of protein synthesis in muscle in response to catabolic insults as it occurs in sepsis, alcohol abuse, AIDS, glucocorticoid access, muscle disuse atrophy etc. Sepsis is of huge medical significance as it is the 10th largest killer in the US and the rate of its incidence is on the rise, despite the recent advances in treatment, care and the development of new age antibiotics.
Can you tell us a little about any (one or several) current research projects running in your lab at the moment?
We are in the process of identifying specific phosphorylation sites on Deptor that may be important in regulating its function and half-life in the cell. We are also interested in studying other aspects of muscle wasting and how mTOR regulates this multi-factorial clinical condition.
How do you use antibodies in your research? What do you look for when sourcing new antibodies?
We carry out the vast majority of our work using antibodies; we use them for Westerns, co-immunoprecipitation, fluorescence microscopy, etc. Cost and specificity are the two important criteria for us when looking for new antibodies.
You recently attended Experimental Biology 2011 as a speaker and delegate. What was the best thing about the meeting (apart from winning an iPod of course)? Did you learn a lot?
We developed important collaborations and I also have a potential job offer in the UK. I learnt at lot in terms of where the current research is headed and what questions need to be answered to get there.
Did you get any interesting questions/constructive feedback from other delegates following your talk?
Yes, as always these meetings offer an opportunity to get extremely valuable and critical feedback on our work. We sometimes are offered help and at other times we are directed to new directions and approaches in our research. I am grateful to my mentor for sponsoring me to attend these meetings.
At present, what has been the best highlight of your career?
One of the highlights has been obtaining my PhD degree with Dr. Charles Lang, Distinguished Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Surgery, at Penn State University. Another “best highlight” has been the birth of my son during these trying times – it made me become more responsible; he is so adorable and such a great stress-buster!
What do you hope to achieve in the future in terms of your career/research?
Someday I would like to have my own lab: the freedom to research things that excite me and simultaneously be able to provide for my family – to whom I owe a lot!
What is the most important piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to start a PhD?
Enjoy what you are doing, stay focused and work hard. There is no other better job that pays you to do something you enjoy: where business is pleasure.
What do you feel you have gained from your PhD?
Freedom to explore, Confidence and maybe some respect
How do you balance research with family life?
You really never are away from the Lab mentally – it is constantly at the back of your mind somewhere – but for the time you are with your loved ones you don’t think about it. All it takes for me to switch-off is when I am home with my son; now he is around, doing chores around the house and playing with him are the most relaxing things – I can’t wait for him to grow-up so we can go fishing and find other hobbies together. Right-now reading books to him and teaching him multiple languages are the biggest goals. My key is to have fun with him and my wife as much as I can squeeze in to our schedules.
Living or deceased, who is your most respected scientist?
CV Raman. First he is Indian, as I am, but more importantly I admire his genius at finding and using simple things to study life – like oil to study the light spectrum. This person, with little means and few possessions, was way ahead of this time and so many things we use today are possible because of his vision. Discoveries of proteins using mass spectrometry or in vivo imaging of breast cancer… The world owes this man a big “Thank You!”Dr. Abid Kazi is a postdoctoral scientist who recently completed his PhD training in the lab of Professor Charles Lang at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA. Here Kazi’s research investigates the mechanisms underlying sepsis-induced muscle tissue loss and he has recently published some of his findings with Lang – as first author of a paper in the journal Shock. His publishing record with the Lang group now stands at 5 papers and he is expecting several more in the near future.