Sanford-Burnham News Archive

Burnham Institute for Medical Research Announces New Faculty Appointments

ORLANDO, Fla. , November 25, 2008

Burnham Institute for Medical Research at Lake Nona today announced four new faculty appointments to the Diabetes and Obesity Research Center. The newest research team members include: Tod Gulick, M.D.; Zhen Y. Jiang, M.D., Ph.D.; Philip A. Wood, D.V.M., Ph.D.; and Devanjan Sikder, D.V.M., Ph.D. They will begin work in temporary laboratory space at Florida’s Blood Centers until the permanent Burnham facility is completed in spring 2009.

The researchers, all published investigators, bring unique skills to the interdisciplinary team being created under the leadership of Daniel P. Kelly, M.D., Scientific Director of Burnham’s Florida campus.

“We are creating a novel research environment where scientists across a variety of disciplines co-mingle. This fosters collaboration and ultimately moves discovery science along at a faster pace,” said Dr. Kelly. “We’re recruiting from the most prestigious institutions in the United States, and in fact the world, in search of pioneer scientists who are spirited investigators, ready to contribute to Orlando’s budding life science sector.”

Tod Gulick, M.D., Assistant Professor, joins Burnham from the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He held an academic appointment as Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston where he taught “The Role of Discovery Medicine.” He has more than 30 publications to his credit and is the past recipient of four NIH grants and more than a dozen peer review grants. Dr. Gulick received his M.D. from the University of Rochester and completed his postdoctoral training at Washington University in Saint Louis and Harvard.

Dr. Gulick will conduct research on a family of genes that regulate metabolism in heart and skeletal muscle. Muscles are the primary site for converting sugar to energy and therefore are of particular interest in the study of glucose management in diabetes. Dr. Gulick seeks to identify new drug targets for the treatment of diabetes and its complications.

Zhen Y. Jiang, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, studies the mechanisms by which obesity induces insulin resistance in diabetes. Dr. Jiang was trained as a physician in China and received his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of London. Prior to joining Burnham, he held research positions at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr. Jiang’s research has shown that in a state of obesity normal insulin action is selectively impaired, causing cells to become insulin resistant, and contributing to the development of type II diabetes. Dr. Jiang plans to apply quantitative proteomics, serum protein profiling and RNA interference approaches to the study of the fat cell. With application of Burnham’s high-throughput screening system, he hopes to identify proteins which may be potential therapeutic targets to prevent the development of diabetes.

Philip A. Wood, D.V.M., Ph.D., will join Burnham in January 2009 as a full professor and will lead the development of animal models of human disease states. Dr. Wood originally trained as a veterinarian and has received NIH research grants for 24 consecutive years, resulting in 82 publications and the development of research models used by investigators around the world to study diabetes and other potentially fatal diseases.

Dr. Wood served most recently as Professor in the Department of Genetics and was previously Chair of the Department of Genomics and Pathobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Medical School. He received his D.V.M. from Kansas State University, his Ph.D. in genetics from UAB and conducted post-doctoral studies in molecular genetics at Baylor College of Medicine. He authored “How Fat Works,” an enlightening book in which he reveals cutting-edge research in obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Dr. Wood uses animal genetics to mimic human diseases and to define the determinants and metabolic conditions that promote obesity and diabetes and related disease processes such as metabolic syndrome.

Devanjan Sikder, D.V.M., Ph.D., will join Burnham as an Assistant Professor in 2009. Dr. Sikder’s research investigates how brain neuropeptides regulate appetite and energy expenditure. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Division of Translational Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He received his Ph.D. in genetic engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India and his D.V.M. from Bidhan Chandra Agriculture University, India.

Dr. Sikder has been investigating how orexin, a hypothalamic neuropeptide, regulates metabolism, sleep patterns and feeding behavior, and the role that hunger plays in the regulation of fat metabolism and insulin secretion. Additionally, Dr. Sikder has been working to identify gene networks involved in depression and circadian rhythms.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration and stem cells, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and expertise in drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs more than 1,000 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at

Sanford-Burnham can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @sanfordburnham.

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