Dr. Everett Vokes , Chair of the Department of Medicine, recently announced two new appointments to the Department’s Executive Committee effective July 1, 2021: Raghu Mirmira, MD, PhD has been appointed as Vice Chair for Research and Jing Chen, PhD has been appointed as Associate Vice Chair for Translational Research. They will be joining Drs. Yoav Gilad and Bana Jabri as part of the Executive Committee’s research team, working together to advance the Department’s scientific mission.

Dr. Mirmira, Professor of Medicine (Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism) and director of the Department ‘s Translational Research Center, has been serving as Associate Vice Chair for Translational Research since last September. In that role he has worked closely with Dr. Gilad to increase the number of well-trained young physician-scientists within each of  the  subspecialty sections where he is currently leading the search/recruitment effort for transformational physician scientists for the Department. Dr. Mirmira’s experience, his leadership as associate vice chair, and his commitment to our research mission underscores his qualifications to serve in the important position as Vice Chair for Research.

As a researcher, Dr. Mirmira’s work is focused on diabetes research—specifically on the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus and the biology of islet cells. Among his many achievements, Dr. Mirmira’s research has led to the discovery and characterization of fast-acting insulin analogues, which are widely used by patients with diabetes today; more recently, his work has begun to dramatically reshape our understanding of the immune pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. His research has been continuously funded by NIH since 1999 and he currently serves as PI on five NIH R series and one NIH U series awards. He is also the lead program director with Graeme Bell, PhD of the recently renewed T32 training program in adult integrated clinical and basic endocrinology research. As a scholar he has published over 150 scientific papers in prestigious journals, including JCI, Cell Metabolism, and Nature Communications. Dr. Mirmira currently serves as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, and is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Dr. Chen, the Janet Davison Rowley Distinguished Service Professor in Cancer Research, joined the Department of Medicine in August 2020 where he also serves as inaugural director of the newly established the Cancer Metabolomics Research Center and director of Basic and Translational Research in the Section of Hematology/Oncology.

Dr. Chen is a leader in the signaling and cancer metabolism fields and has made major contributions to the leukemia field and to solid tumor biology resulting in a better understanding of cancer metabolism and improved clinical outcomes.  He has uncovered novel insights into the links between signaling and metabolism, using innovative studies in cellular/organismal systems. This includes groundbreaking work linking the BRAF and IDH mutant oncoproteins to signaling and metabolism. His work on mutations in leukemia has helped to establish that alternative pathways and metabolic factors influence the leukemia pathogenesis and disease development, and thus provide new insights in development of novel anti-leukemia therapies. He also works to decipher mechanistic bases underlying the pathogenic links between diets and particular oncogenic mutations by exploring the pro- and anti-tumor effects of diet-derived substances on tumors with specific genetic backgrounds. Dr. Chen’s cutting edge translational investigations have the potential to translate impactful science from bench to bedside.

Dr. Chen has an extensive track record of accomplishment in both original publications and research funding. His scholarly work includes very impressive set of papers where his discoveries have been published in Cancer Cell, Molecular Cell, Cell Metabolism, Nature Cell Biology, and Cancer Discovery. His research has been consistently funded throughout his career. He is currently supported by 2 NIH R01 awards and owns 6 patents for his work. As a mentor, Dr. Chen has an outstanding record of guiding young investigators to successful careers in cancer research. In 2017 he was recognized with Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute Research Mentorship Award.

In his role as Associate Vice Chair for Translational Research, Dr. Chen will work closely with the research vice chair team to enhance the Department’s scientific mission with a specific focus on the development of senior fellows and junior faculty, including the Pathway Instructors, interested in translational research.