Sanford-Burnham News Archive

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona Surpasses Mid-point for Faculty Recruitment

ORLANDO, Fla. , July 12, 2010

Fraydoon Rastinejad, Ph.D. and Sepideh Khorasanizadeh, Ph.D., both from the University of Virginia, have joined the faculty of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. They will be based at the Lake Nona facility located in Orlando, Florida. The Institute now has 17 lead scientists at Lake Nona and is more than halfway toward fulfilling its plan to recruit up to 30 principal investigators to the site. The recruitment further expands the Institute’s expertise in basic discovery and its translational capabilities to develop therapeutics aimed at pervasive diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Drs. Rastinejad and Khorasanizadeh have primary appointments in the Metabolic Signaling and Disease Program (MSDP) within the Diabetes and Obesity Research Center. The professors join an interdisciplinary group of researchers studying complex interactions between caloric intake and energy balance. An important goal of the MSDP is to define the signaling networks and gene regulatory mechanisms involved in the control of fuel metabolism and mitochondrial function.

“Drs. Khorasanizadeh and Rastinejad provide new expertise that will help us comprehensively study diabetes and related metabolic disorders. They are internationally recognized for their groundbreaking discoveries to understand how protein structure relates to physiology and function. This will complement the existing strengths of our current faculty and synergize with pioneering endeavors already underway that are focused mainly in cell and whole body studies,” said Dr. Timothy Osborne, director of the MSDP.

Fraydoon Rastinejad, Ph.D.

Using molecular, cell and structural biology techniques, Dr. Rastinejad’s laboratory studies nuclear hormone receptors, a family of proteins that directly bind DNA to turn genes on and off. By establishing the structure and function of these receptors, this research will support the design of new therapeutics that influence which genes are turned on during diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Dr. Rastinejad has served as faculty at the University of Virginia School of Medicine since 1995. His last appointment was joint professor of Pharmacology and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics. He was also the first director for the Center of Molecular Design. Dr. Rastinejad obtained his Ph.D. in Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania and conducted his doctoral research as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute/NIH postdoctoral fellow at Yale University.

Sepideh Khorasanizadeh, Ph.D.

Dr. Khorasanizadeh's laboratory uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography to research the epigenetic basis for human disorders. Epigenetics is the study of inherited changes in a cell that occur even when there is no change in the underlying DNA of an organism. Her current research projects are aimed at characterizing the features of chromatin, a component of a cell’s nucleus that acts like software for managing the genome. Chromatin ultimately defines how cells receive instructions in a normal state and during cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Dr. Khorasanizadeh has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. She conducted her postdoctoral studies at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Maryland. Most recently she held the position of associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Khorasanizadeh maintained simultaneous memberships in the University’s Cancer Center and other programs including: Pharmacology Sciences Training, Biophysics, and the Medical Scientist Training Program.

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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