Aruni Bhatnagar, PhD
Director, Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute
University of Louisville
Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar is professor of medicine and distinguished university scholar at the University of Louisville (UofL). He is the director of the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and co-director of the American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation Center. He is a leading expert on the mechanisms by which environmental exposures such as air pollution affect cardiovascular disease risk. Dr. Bhatnagar’s initial work involved the purification and characterization of aldose reductase and its role in diabetic complications. To this end, he established the identity of this enzyme in several tissues and investigated its structural, kinetic and inhibitory properties. His work has shown that increasing nitric oxide (NO) availability prevents aldose reductase activation and sorbitol accumulation in diabetic tissues. Additionally, his recent studies show that glucose activates multiple protein kinases and that the activation of these kinases is required for the inflammatory effects of glucose in vascular tissues. At UofL, Dr. Bhatnagar’s work also led to the elucidation of the mechanisms by which free radicals and lipid peroxidation products affect the function of individual ion channels. He was the leader of a Program Project Grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study the cardiovascular toxicity of environmental aldehydes. In this program-project, he directed a large multi-disciplinary team of investigators studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms of aldehyde toxicity. His studies at UofL have led to the development of the new field of Environmental Cardiology. He was the deputy editor of Circulation Research for 10 years. He has participated in over 50 U.S. National Institutes of Health review panels and chaired several review panels. He was the recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity, University of Louisville, and Partner in Healthcare Award – Contributing to Greater Louisville Healthcare Community in 2007. In 2007, he also received the first Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Graduate Students and the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. In 2017, he was designated Research Exemplar by Washington University. Dr. Bhatnagar has published 381 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 25 book chapters and reviews and over 200 abstracts. He has mentored 61 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in his laboratory and has served on the dissertation committee of 18 Ph.D. students.