Dr. Raz Shaikh

Saame "Raz" Shaikh, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Nutrition


Raz Shaikh, PhD, is a professor with more than 10 years of experience as a researcher, who specializes in the study of how dietary fatty acids and their metabolites regulate immunological and metabolic responses in obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 

Dr. Shaikh currently is focusing his expertise on understanding how dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and their downstream metabolites (e.g. monohydroxylated n-3 fatty acids) control the infectious, inflammatory, and metabolic response in obesity and its associated complications. He also is working on ways to improve the function of mitochondria, which are the energy producing hubs in a cell. Finally, he is conducting a clinical study on how a dietary fatty acid known as palmitoleic acid controls systemic inflammation. 

Dr. Shaikh previously was an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. In 2012, he was awarded the Early Career Award from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) for his research on n-3 fatty acids. In 2018, he received an award for his research from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). Dr. Shaikh was elected to the ISSFAL Board of Directors in 2021 and the ASN Board of Directors in 2022. 

Saame "Raz" Shaikh in the Gillings News

Honors and Awards

Early Career Award
2012, ISSFAL

Five Year Achievement Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity
2016, East Carolina University

Mary Swartz Rose Young Investigator Award
2018, American Society for Nutrition

Teaching Interests

Dr. Shaikh has expertise in teaching lipid biochemistry, nutritional immunology and metabolism. He has previously taught graduate courses on medical biochemistry and nutritional metabolism.

Research Activities

Research in the Shaikh lab is broadly focused on understanding how dietary fatty acids and their metabolites regulate immunological and metabolic outcomes in obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The lab vertically integrates differing model systems including biomimetic membranes, cell culture, transgenic/knockout mice and human subjects. The lab uniquely fuses techniques from lipid biochemistry, membrane biophysics, and nutritional immunology to address questions related to the following major projects.

The first project aims to understand how metabolites known as specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators, which generally are deficient in obese subjects, can be used therapeutically to boost innate and adaptive immunity in pre-clinical and clinical models. Efforts focus on the mechanisms by which the metabolites target specific receptors to improve immunological responses mediated by B cells in addition to macrophages and select T cells.  

Another project addresses how mitochondrial inner membrane structure-function is impaired in response to modifications to the mitochondrial-specific phospholipid known as cardiolipin. Investigation centers on how the remodeling of cardiolipin fatty acyl chains, as observed in Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, impairs oxidative phosphorylation enzyme activity and the formation of mitochondrial structures known as supercomplexes.

Several additional projects currently are in development, including some epidemiological work and a phase I clinical trial is starting, which is focused on novel fatty acids and inflammation.

Service Activities

Dr. Shaikh is involved in organizing events and conferences for national and international meetings for differing societies. Dr. Shaikh currently serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Frontiers in Nutrition, Journal of Nutrition, and is an associate editor of Prostglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids. Dr. Shaikh previously has done extensive work with diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Key Publications

Obesity reprograms the pulmonary polyunsaturated fatty acid-derived lipidome, transcriptome, and gene-oxylipin networks. Virk R, Buddenbaum N, Al-Shaer A, Armstrong M, Manke J, Reisdorph N, Sergin S, Fenton JI, Wallace ED, Ehrmann BM, Lovins HB, Gowdy KM, Smith MR, Smith GJ, Kelada SNP, Shaikh SR.  (1970). Journal of Lipid Research, 63(10).

Inflammation and metabolism of influenza-stimulated PBMCs from adults with obesity following bariatric surgery. Green WD, Alwarawrah Y, Al-Shaer AE, Shi Q, Armstrong M, Manke J, Reisdorph N, Farrell TM, Hursting SD, MacIver NJ, Beck MA, Shaikh SR. (1970). Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Resolvin E1 derived from eicosapentaenoic acid prevents hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia in a host genetic manner. . Pal A, Al-Shaer AE, Guesdon W, Torres MJ, Armstrong M, Quinn K, Davis T, Reisdorph N, Neufer PD, Spangenburg EE, Carroll I, Bazinet RP, Halade GV, Clària J, Shaikh SR. (2020). FASEB Journal, 34(8), 10640-10656.

17β-Estradiol Directly Lowers Mitochondrial Membrane Microviscosity and Improves Bioenergetic Function in Skeletal Muscle. Torres MJ, Kew KA, Ryan TE, Pennington ER, Lin CT, Buddo KA, Fix AM, Smith CA, Gilliam LA, Karvinen S, Lowe DA, Spangenburg EE, Zeczycki TN, Shaikh SR, Neufer PD. (2018). Cell Metabolism, 27(1), 167-179.e7.

Docosahexaenoic acid lowers cardiac mitochondrial enzyme activity by replacing linoleic acid in the phospholipidome. Sullivan EM, Pennington ER, Sparagna GC, Torres MJ, Neufer PD, Harris M, Washington J, Anderson EJ, Zeczycki TN, Brown DA, Shaikh SR (2018). Journal of Biological Chemistry, 293(2), 466-483.

B Cell Activity Is Impaired in Human and Mouse Obesity and Is Responsive to an Essential Fatty Acid upon Murine Influenza Infection. Kosaraju R, Guesdon W, Crouch MJ, Teague HL, Sullivan EM, Karlsson EA, Schultz-Cherry S, Gowdy K, Bridges LC, Reese LR, Neufer PD, Armstrong M, Reisdorph N, Milner JJ, Beck M, Shaikh SR (2017). Journal of Immunology, 198(12), 4738-4752.

Murine Diet-Induced Obesity Remodels Cardiac and Liver Mitochondrial Phospholipid Acyl Chains with Differential Effects on Respiratory Enzyme Activity. Sullivan EM, Fix A, Crouch MJ, Sparagna GC, Zeczycki TN, Brown DA, Shaikh SR (2017). Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 45(1), 94-103.

Expert Consensus Document: Mitochondrial Function as a Therapeutic Target in Heart Failure. Brown DA, Perry JB, Allen ME, Sabbah HN, Stauffer BL, Shaikh SR, Cleland JG, Colucci WS, Butler J, Voors AA, Anker SD, Pitt B, Pieske B, Filippatos G, Greene SJ, Gheorghiade M (2017). Nature Reviews Cardiology, 4(1), 238-250.


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Immunology, Johns Hopkins University, 2008
  • PhD, Medical Biophysics, Indiana University, 2004
  • MS, Biology, Purdue University, 2001
  • BS, Psychology/Biology, Purdue University, 1998