August 24, 2023

Dr. Raz Shaikh

Dr. Raz Shaikh

The UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health has appointed Saame “Raz” Shaikh, PhD, as chair of the Department of Nutrition, effective September 1.

Shaikh specializes in the study of how dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and their metabolites regulate immunological and metabolic responses in obesity — and, more recently, in response to environmental exposures.

He joined the Gillings School’s Department of Nutrition in 2017 as an associate professor and quickly took on more responsibility. In 2018, he became the department’s associate chair for research and began to co-lead the animal metabolism phenotyping core for the Nutrition Research Obesity Center (NORC). In 2021, he was named co-director of NORC.

Shaikh also was elected to the board of directors for the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids in 2021. In 2022, he became a full professor in the Department of Nutrition and was elected to the American Society for Nutrition’s board of directors.

“In his time here, Raz has shown himself to be highly mission driven and focused on student well-being,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, dean and Bryson Distinguished professor at the Gillings School.

Previously, Shaikh taught biochemistry and grant writing at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. He now focuses his expertise on understanding how dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and their downstream metabolites 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.

“I am incredibly honored to lead the department at this moment in Gillings history,” Shaikh shared. “My early goals center on strengthening collaboration while finding ways to achieve a positive work/life balance among students, faculty and staff. COVID taught us where the stressors are, and we must continue to adapt to changing circumstances and needs both within the nutrition department and across the Gillings School.”

“Co-teaching the nutrition doctoral capstone with Raz gave me the chance to see his dedication to teaching and his compassion for students,” said former nutrition department chair Beth Mayer-Davis, PhD, now dean of UNC’s graduate school. “Our beloved department has an incredibly bright future in his hands.”

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