Two Esteemed Professors Receive Tenure

Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D. (left), John Greally, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D.
Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D. (left), John Greally, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D.

Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Einstein's Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, has announced that two Einstein faculty members have been granted tenure. The honor confers permanent faculty status and is granted to the most esteemed members of the College of Medicine's faculty.    

A Pioneer and World-Class Expert in Epigenetics

John Greally, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D.
Professor of Genetics, of Medicine (Hematology) and of Pediatrics
Director, Einstein Center for Epigenomics
Faculty Scholar for Epigenomics
Attending Physician (Pediatrics), Children's Hospital at Montefiore
 
Dr. John Greally is a pioneer in the field of epigenetics--the study of changes in gene expression that don't result from changes in the DNA but can be passed from one generation to the next. (Scientists are discovering that epigenetic changes play a crucial role in cancer and other diseases as well as in human development.) 

Dr. Greally began his career as a pediatrician with a subspecialty in clinical genetics. He cared for children with genetic syndromes, birth defects and developmental problems. Today he focuses on understanding how glitches in the way genes are switched on and off may cause these and other genetic conditions.

Dr. Greally's investigations include the epigenetic regulation of stem cells, as well as epigenetic abnormalities in diseases such as cancers associated with viral infections, infectious diseases and stresses to the fetus in the womb. He and his colleagues also study environmental influences on the epigenome. In 2014, the Greally laboratory found that such influences may play a role in the development of autism, and identified the epigenetic changes that may be implicated. 

In March 2015, Dr. Greally received the College of Medicine's Faculty Mentoring Award (basic sciences), which recognizes the critical role of mentors in the lives and careers of junior faculty.  

"Einstein is gaining a national reputation for excellence in epigenomics research, due in large part to John's exceptional leadership of the College of Medicine's active and productive research program," said Dean Spiegel. "His research excellence is matched by his exemplary skills in training and inspiring the next generation of research scientists."  

Dr. Greally earned his M.B., B.Ch. and B.A.O. degrees at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he also earned his Ph.D. in microbiology. He joined the Einstein faculty in 2001.

A Groundbreaking Investigator in Aging and Metabolic Syndrome

Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Pharmacology
The Irma T. Hirschl Scholar

Dr. Donsheng Cai is a leader in the study of the neural mechanisms of aging and metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Cai studies the role of the central nervous system in the development of obesity, diabetes, age-related illnesses, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease. His laboratory seeks to understand the underlying molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms that cause these conditions. A central goal of these investigations is to develop safe and effective therapies and prevention protocols.

In 2013, Dr. Cai and his team reported, for the first time, that the hypothalamus—the brain region that controls growth, reproduction and metabolism—also regulates aging throughout the body. This finding may lead to new strategies for increasing longevity.

The Cai laboratory also found that the hypothalamus, which controls body temperature, hunger and thirst, can play a critical role in determining whether an individual will develop diabetes. Together, these two discoveries point to novel approaches to controlling obesity and, possibly, combatting diseases of old age.

A native of China, Dr. Cai grew up in a rural area where diseases were common. That experience sparked his desire to become a physician and researcher. After earning his doctoral degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He was recruited to Einstein  in 2008 as an associate professor and rose to the rank of professor in 2012.

"The breadth and depth of Dongsheng's research portfolio has resulted in meaningful advances in our understanding of the basic cellular processes of aging, age-related diseases and diabetes," said Dean Spiegel. "His creative approach and collaborative spirit have made invaluable contributions in these key areas of research."

 

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