Dipak Sarkar, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, has been recognized as an Expertscape world expert in pro-opiomelanocortin. This peptide molecule produces multiple hormones including beta-endorphin, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone, and adrenocorticotropic hormone. These hormones are made mainly in the brain and regulate many body functions including feeling good, addiction, stress control, metabolic regulation and immunity.
Expertscape ranks and lists the world’s top experts in clinical and research medicine, and is a global resource for patients and referring physicians. Using PubMed-based algorithms, Expertscape placed Sarkar in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about pro-opiomelanocortin over the past 10 years, a level it considers “World Expert.” Sarkar’s contributions to 20 scholarly articles on the topic between 2012-2022 led to this top ranking among more than 25,000 published authors worldwide on the topic.
Sarkar’s research has shown that a seemingly irreversible reduction in the number and function of proopiomelanocortin neurons results in a permanent impairment of stress, metabolic and immune system functions throughout life. Using animal models, his research on fetal alcohol exposure leading to pro-opiomelanocortin neuronal death due to neuroinflammation has been expanded to include many diverse areas of alcohol pathology, including its influence on promoting breast, prostate and liver tumors, as well as metabolic and brain dysfunctions often observed in the offspring with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Notable is his discovery that high stress hormone levels in mothers exposed to alcohol – prior to conception – appear to affect the expression and epigenetic profiles of genes that play a role in regulating central stress responses and glucose homeostasis.
His laboratory has also developed a groundbreaking technique to prepare pro-opiomelanocortin neurons from stem cells and identified a potential use of pro-opiomelanocortin cell therapy in the prevention of stress, metabolic problems and various cancers using animal models. Several of his published papers have received national and international recognition due to the important discovery of the molecular mechanisms leading to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and the epigenetic mechanism recently implicated in transgenerational effects of fetal alcohol exposure.
As founding director of the Endocrine Program at Rutgers, Sarkar hosts an annual, collaborative Pioneers in Endocrinology Workshop. He has served as the director of the Biomedical Division of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies and was named Board of Governors Professor in Animal Sciences in 2014. The professorship was established at Rutgers to recognize exceptional scholarship and accomplishment by a faculty member at the full professorial rank.
Among his many honors is the 2017 Distinguished Researcher Award by the Research Society on Alcoholism. A former chair of the Department of Animal Sciences, Sarkar has been listed among the top 50 Rutgers Experts in the News as recent as 2019.