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Majid Syed-Abdul

PhD Student in Nutritional SciencesMajid Syed-AbdulMajid Syed-Abdul is a pharmacist from Hyderabad, “The Pearl City of India,” who came to the United States in 2011 to learn about Nutrition. He received his Master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Sciences from Southeast Missouri State University in 2014. During his Master’s program, Majid gained his interest in clinical nutrition studies and chose MU for his doctoral education. During his first year at MU, Majid worked with Dr. Steve Ball in MU Extension and conducted the first research project for the Stay Strong Stay Healthy program. Since his second year, Majid has been working full time in Dr. Elizabeth Parks’ laboratory and has conducted two clinical nutrition studies and a pharmaceutical phase 1b clinical trial. Currently, he is collaborating with the physician-scientists and surgeons in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and the Department of Surgery to understand the role of de novo lipogenesis in the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. He utilizes the stable isotope technique to label lipogenesis and measures it directly in liver biopsies obtained from patients undergoing bariatric surgery. Majid’s email is ms9rf@mail.missouri.edu.

Awards and Scholarships: Keystone Symposia Future of Science Fund scholarship/National Institute of Health, Keystone Symposia on Obesity and NAFLD: Mechanisms and Therapeutics, Project: Contribution of de novo lipogenesis (DNL) in progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (2020); 1st Place, 3MT Award, University of Missouri, Project: NAFLD-Role of Sugars (2019); MU Dissertation Year Fellowship (Gamma Alpha Gamma), University of Missouri (2019/20); Predoctoral Fellowship, American Society for Nutrition (2018/19); Professional Presentation Travel Award, Office of Graduate Studies, University of Missouri (2018); Charlene Scanland-Evert Graduate Research Scholarship in Nutritional Sciences (2018); Food for the 21st Century (F21C) Cluster – Nutrition Travel Award, University of Missouri (2018); Cambridge Isotope Laboratory Inc. Student Travel Award (2018); Keystone J-3 Scholarship, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Project: Progressive reductions in hepatic DNL with increasing doses of TVB-2640, a first-in-class pharmacologic inhibitor of FASN (2018); Mizzou Advantage Travel Award – Graduate, University of Missouri, Project: Progressive reductions in hepatic DNL with increasing doses of TVB-2640, a first-in-class pharmacologic inhibitor of FASN (2018); Graduate Professional Council Travel Award, University of Missouri, Oral presentation on Project: Sex-dependent effects of a low carbohydrate diet-induced weight loss on aortic stiffness (2017); MU-Extension Travel Award, University of Missouri, Project: Acute effects of incremental resistance training on muscle function in older adults (2017); Food for the 21st Century (F21C) Cluster – Nutrition Travel Award, Sex-dependent effects of a low carbohydrate diet-induced weight loss on aortic stiffness (2017); Departmental Travel Award, Laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Parks, School of Medicine, University of Missouri (2016); 9th Annual Course on Isotope Tracers in Metabolic Research: Principles and Practice of Kinetic Analysis, National Institute of Health/National Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Centers (2016); Graduate Professional Council Travel Award, University of Missouri, Project: Effects of incremental resistance training program on quality of life in older adults (2016); Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology Travel Award, University of Missouri, Project: Stay Strong, Stay Healthy: University of Missouri Extension’s strength-training program for older adults in community settings (2016); Departmental Travel Award, Laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Parks, School of Medicine, University of Missouri (2016).

Why did you choose Mizzou?

I chose MU primarily because of Dr. Parks (my PhD mentor) and her research expertise in conducting clinical trials. After interviewing with Dr. Parks and a tour of NEP facilities, Dr. Parks’ laboratory, and the state-of-the-art MU Clinical Research Center, I was confident that MU would be the best place for me to get my doctoral training which turned out to be true.

What is your thesis/dissertation about?

My dissertation project is focused on quantification of the de novo lipogenesis pathway (both at the analytical and molecular levels) in the progression of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). I am currently utilizing stable isotopes to measure lipogenesis directly in human livers and comparing them with histological examination. The secondary aim of my project is to understand the contribution of the cholesterol pathway in the progression of NAFLD.

Currently, there are no approved treatments for NAFLD, novel findings from my dissertation will not only add significant knowledge to the existing literature but will also aid the development of nutritional and pharmacological therapies for patients with this debilitating disease.

Why did you choose the field you chose?

I have been trained as a pharmacist and have worked in a pharmacology lab. Although I recognize the importance of pharmacological treatments, I realized that nutrition is a preventative approach to treat people. This has led me to join the Ph.D. program in Nutritional Sciences at MU.

Have your career goals changed?

I don’t necessarily think that my career goals have changed. I would say they have been refined and clearer than they were before I started at MU.

Where do you plan to go upon graduation?

I would like to continue to work in the area of my research and acquire training, as a postdoctoral fellow, to be able to become an independent researcher at an academic institution.

What did you like about Mizzou?

The campus is beautiful. I like showing around the campus to everyone who visits me.

I like the collaborative research that is being conducted at MU which has allowed me to gain a unique experience to understand nutrition science from multiple perspectives. Additionally, this unique collaborative environment in the department has enabled me to conduct my dissertation work.

I love the day-to-day research conversations I have with Dr. Parks, immense support from Dr. Parks and other NEP faculty, an equal opportunity to grow for everyone, the diversity in Parks lab, and her inclusiveness with every person to make MU feel like home.

Lastly, when I started my PhD at MU in Nutritional Sciences, like every other graduate student, I questioned, why I need so many credits, why can’t I simply start my research? But when I took Dr. Hinton’s nutrition course, I learned and liked the concept that every aspect of the program implemented was based on the requirements outlined by the Graduate Nutrition Education Committee of the American Society of Nutrition to be a nutrition researcher. Often times, when students get their PhD in Nutritional Sciences from MU, they don’t appreciate or realize that they’ve been trained uniquely to be an expert who understands nutrition science from many perspectives and are the most competitive candidate for academic or industrial positions.

Who was your mentor?

My mentor is Dr. Elizabeth J. Parks.