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Dr. Jose Cordoba-Chacon’s Cutting-Edge Research

Dr. Jose Cordoba-Chacon

Dr. Jose Cordoba-Chacon is a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Medicine specializing in endocrinology. Over the years, he has been extensively researching pathologies of the liver and their relation to metabolism. He is also an Honors College Faculty Fellow who mentors undergraduate students in his lab. Currently, his primary focus is on Non-alcohilic Steatohepatitis (NASH), which inflicts individuals globally at an alarming rate. NASH is characterized by inflammation of the liver, nephron damage, and hepatocyte ballooning, which in turn can cause fibrosis, increasing the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Over 100 million Americans are affected by variations of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) with an annual cost of $30 million. However, despite this prevalence, there is no FDA approved drug that directly treats this disease. 

That’s why UIC Honors College students are eager to work with Dr. Jose Cordoba-Chacon in his lab. It gives them the opportunity to directly apply what they learn in their biology and chemistry courses to influence the world of medical research. As a high school student, imagining that you will have the opportunity to be a part of such an endeavor so soon seems unfathomable, but the UIC Honors College and its fellows make that dream that much more attainable. Through Dr. Cordoba-Chacon’s mentorship, students are able to learn how to design research experiments, professionally present data, and conduct foundational laboratory procedures such as metabolic tests that help examine body composition. An example of a test is an ALT (alanine aminotransferase) blood test, which measures liver injury. Interestingly, it is the same procedure used in hospital laboratories to diagnose patients with liver damage. Another example is the Glucose Tolerance test, commonly given to diabetic patients.  Dr. Jose Cordoba-Chacon says he loves working with undergraduate students who are dedicated, self motivated, and eager to learn. Over the years, he has mentored many students from a variety of majors. I had the opportunity to join his research lab in August 2018 and it has been an amazingly fulfilling experience. The level of passion and knowledge that Dr. Jose Cordoba-Chacon brings every single day is absolutely mesmerizing. His eagerness to teach and spread his love for research is also quite admirable. Currently, we are working to study the pathway of a receptor called PPARgamma that has been thought to play a key role in NASH. We are excited by the new frontiers we can conquer in the world of liver disease by learning more about this receptor.