Pradipta Ghosh is a physician-scientist with dual training in medicine and basic science. She was first exposed to experimental biology in the laboratory of Prof. Stuart A. Kornfeld, M.D. in Washington University School of Medicine. During the subsequent 3 years she entered the Physician-Scientist Training Pathway (PSTP) at UCSD and completed her clinical training in Internal medicine and Gastroenterology while simultaneously completing research training in the laboratory of Prof. Marilyn G. Farquhar, Ph.D. Her postdoctoral work directly led to the characterization of a novel stratum in signal transduction by a unique class of molecules, which she christened guanine-nucleotide exchange modulators (GEMs). Since then, her group has been systematically pursuing in-depth the biological implications of what constitutes an intracellular communication network. While characterizing the GEMs, her group was the first to show how these multi-modular proteins intercept incoming signals from the cell’s exterior through diverse portals (i.e., receptors) and route them to multiple intracellular locations and organelles. GEMs coordinate these responses by being able to sense the presence of active monomeric GTPases on intracellular membranes at various locations and turn on/off trimeric-GTPases at those locations; mono and trimeric-GTPases are molecular switches for signal transduction located at virtually every intracellular location.
This paradigm of intracellular GTPase signaling that is modulated by GEMs is strikingly different from how trimeric-GTPases were previously believed to function in cells. Published and ongoing molecular, structural and systems biology, and molecular imaging studies spearheaded by her lab have confirmed this paradigm and revealed its importance in diseases such as cancers, fibrosis and diabetes. These studies showed that the GEM-GTPase system doesn’t just transduce signals; rather, like the Internet communication protocols which link devices worldwide, they serve as network-protocols for intracellular communication at diverse intracellular microdomains. GEMs route signals between organelles and facilitate communication with the cell’s exterior.
In launching the Center for Network Medicine, Pradipta’s goal is to not only reveal the importance of GEMs in health and diseases, but also unravel other molecules like GEMs that support a complete system of network-protocols for cellular communication. In short, she seeks to decode the Intranet of cells (IoC) using a transdisciplinary approach. Her overall vision is to drive disruptive research in biology, medicine and engineering using the fundamentals of the IoC paradigm, with the ultimate goal of enhancing, enriching and improving human existence.