The featured outstanding New PI for July 2018 is Mete Civelek, Ph.D.!
Dr. Civelek is an Assistant Professor of Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Center for Public Health Genomics at the University of Virginia.His lab works to understand the genetic mechanisms that lead to increased susceptibility to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Dr. Civelek is a prolific scientist with over 50 peer reviewed articles to date. Dr. Civelek is currently funded by multiple NIH grants, including an R01 from the NIDDK to study the role of adipocyte KLF 14 in metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Civelek received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Molecular Biology and Genetics from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. He then received his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Penn State University and Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. During his Ph.D., Dr. Civelek studied the heterogeneity of endothelial cell phenotypes in the arterial system. He identified links between mechanical stress due to blood flow and biological stress in atherosclerosis models. During his graduate work, he published multiple impactful papers in the field of vascular endothelial function and atherosclerosis. He was funded by an American Heart Association predoctoral fellowship. Dr. Civelek then moved to UCLA for his postdoctoral work in cardiovascular genetics. His postdoctoral work focused on using systems genetics approaches to study metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. He was funded by an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship and a T32 NIH training grant. He received a highly competitive K99/R00 from the Heart and Lung Institute in 2014. In 2015, Dr. Civelek joined the faculty of University of Virginia where he has made great strides towards understanding the complex gene interaction networks that result in increased risk for Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Dr. Civelek’s lab along with collaborators from 6 different countries recently published a paper in Nature Geneticsentitled “Regulatory variants at KLF14 influence type 2 diabetes risk via a female-specific effect on adipocyte size and body composition”. Using systems genetics approaches, this paper identified a novel molecular mechanism of a genomic locus that harbor variants associated with increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes and fat distribution in women. More specifically, this study identified a novel mechanism for fat storage. This paper highlights the passion Dr. Civelek has for his work as he states that one of the things that motivates him is, “the possibility that we can make a discovery that will help people to heal from Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes”. You can read the paper here.
Dr. Civelek is also a committed and excellent mentor. He states that “My absolute favorite thing about being a PI is the opportunity to train the next generation of scientists. I try my best to provide with them the opportunity to tackle interesting and important questions and help them grow into mature scientists”. His outstanding mentorship is evident in the fact that two of his postdoctoral fellows have received fellowships from the American Heart Association and his graduate student was awarded a competitive position in a training grant in cardiovascular biology.
In addition to exceling in science and training the next generation, Dr. Civelek is also passionate about diversity in STEM. He is the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is responsible for working with students, faculty, and administrators to implement programs to recruit new members from diverse backgrounds to the department and also create an inclusive and welcoming department. His work on this committee has led to an increase in the diversity of seminar speakers, training of department members in ways to recognize and mitigate implicit bias, visits by various department faculty to Minority Serving Institutions, and representation of the Biomedical Engineering Department in conferences geared towards minority students.
Learn more about Dr. Civelek’s research here: http://civeleklab.org