Postdoc Profile in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Keisha N. Hardeman, Ph.D.
Mentor: Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Degree: Molecular & Cell Biology
Undergraduate Institution: Texas A&M University
Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas
How did you become interested in science and/or research specifically?
I have been interested in science since early childhood and my parents fostered and nurtured my scientific interests. I participated in research during high school, spending a summer at Texas A&M University in the laboratory of Gregory Reinhart. I would later work in several laboratories, including a biochemistry lab at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan.
I completed my post-baccalaureate studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences Program. This allowed me to apply my scientific curiosity toward understanding biological metrics of disease and patient care through topics such as hematology, chemistry, microbiology, and genetics; I maintain double board certification with the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
For my doctoral studies I investigated the metabolic mechanisms of drug resistance in cancer, and I received my Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Vanderbilt University. I started my postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern in July 2020.
Tell us about your research project and its relevance to human health.
In my present research I examine hepatic metabolism in the setting of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is characterized by the accumulation of hepatic triglycerides, inflammation and oxidative stress; it is closely associated with obesity and insulin resistance, with a prevalent of 25-30%. I use diverse approaches (in vivo tracers, cell and animal models, and bioinformatics) to understand the metabolic basis of NAFLD -- in particular the elevated energy demand and substrate flux coupled to deteriorating mitochondrial capacity and cellular damage.
Have you received any awards or fellowships during your scientific career, including high school, undergraduate, and graduate school?
Post-baccalaureate: Texas Educator Excellence Grant; National Student Honor Award from the American Society for Clinical Pathology; Board Certification (Technologist Level) in Medical Laboratory Scientist from the American Society for Clinical Pathology Graduate School: Board Certification (Technologist Level) in Molecular Biology from the American Society for Clinical Pathology; NIH NRSA F31 Pre-doctoral Fellowship; IMSD participant; Integrated Biological Systems Training in Oncology Training Grant Postdoctoral: SACNAS Postdoc Leadership Institute (2019 Hawaii Cohort); UTSW PROVIDES Scholar
Why did you choose to come to UT Southwestern for graduate school?
In regards to metabolism research, UTSW is one of the most active and vibrant metabolism communities in the world. The research environment is collaborative, growth-oriented, and rich with opportunities for training and gaining mentorship. Great discoveries have been made here. The scientists have wide-ranging expertise, international impact and established credibility.
In your opinion, what makes your specific program one of the top in the country?
The PROVIDES program will help me build a competitive record for the next steps in my career (faculty-level). Additionally, while also pursuing my research, I can hone other skills needed to be successful in academia (like teaching, networking, mentoring, and leadership) and the University supports this. I am excited to be in a place where I can focus on my research and take part in these meaningful activities.
– Keisha N. Hardeman, Ph.D., PROVIDES Program