Dr. Maziar Rahmani

Maziar Rahmani, MD, PhD, DABIM

Clinical Corner logoMaziar Rahmani, MD, PhD, DABIM, joined the NIH in 2018 as a clinical fellow in the NIH Inter-Institute Endocrinology Training Program. He currently studies diabetic vascular disease in Dr. Brant Weinstein’s lab at NICHD, exploring whether short-term exposure to hyperglycemia in vivo causes long-term epigenetic changes in vasculature.

Dr. Rahmani attended medical school at Babol University School of Medicine in Iran, where he was awarded the Young Investigator Award for founding a lipid research clinic and conducting several randomized clinical trials on high risk populations. After a fellowship from the Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences (RIES) in Iran investigating trends in cardiometabolic diseases, Dr. Rahmani joined the Center for Heart Lung Innovation at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada as a PhD trainee investigating the molecular mechanism of genes in cardiovascular disease. He continued his vascular research with a postdoctoral fellowship at the Genome Sciences Center (GSC) in Vancouver. Dr. Rahmani completed an internal medicine residency at the George Washington University and is board certified in internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

We asked Dr. Rahmani a few questions about his research and interests to get to know the person behind the degree. Introducing Dr. Rahmani:

What influenced you to go into endocrinology?

Tragedy can turn everything in life into a painful experience, yet it is from suffering that a phoenix is reborn and rises. I was two years old when my father suffered his first myocardial infarction as a premature complication of his diabetes, and his battle with the condition shaped my childhood. I keenly felt the impact and burden of diabetes on a patient and his family. The process of losing my father was like being reborn; as a gift of that tragic loss, I emerged on the other side as a clinician equipped to treat and fight for other diabetic patients as though they were my own family.

My goal was to practice endocrinology as a clinician scientist, an aspiration that led me to earn a medical degree, a fellowship in the epidemiology of cardio-metabolic diseases, a PhD in molecular/vascular biology, a post-doctoral fellowship in human genetics, an internal medicine specialty training, and now an endocrinology fellowship. The numerous awards of recognition illustrate the breadth of my experience in both clinical and research settings, but the direct impact of my work on the patient is what motivates my professional journey.

How has your perspective of biomedical research evolved from the first year to the third year of your NIH fellowship?

I was fortunate to be awarded a clinical and research fellowship at the NIH. This training program has provided me with comprehensive training experience alongside world-renowned experts in the field. It has broadened my education in the cutting-edge research and clinical aspects of endocrinology, preparing me for my future career in clinical and research academia.

This is a unique opportunity to have clinical training and exposure at the NIH Clinical Center, the largest medical research hospital in the United States, which has a world-wide and national referral basis that ensures exposure to a variety of common and rare endocrine disorders. The first half of my fellowship was enriched by amazing clinical experience in this setting and has provided me the foundation to positively impact my clinical and research career aspirations.

In addition to my clinical endocrinology fellowship training, I have been fortunate to be recruited in the laboratory of Dr. Brant Weinstein in NICHD’s Division of Developmental Biology. Dr. Weinstein’s laboratory has supported me with funding and has provided interaction with outstanding scientists and postdoctoral fellows in his lab.

My primary area of clinical and research interest is centered around the vascular complications of diabetes. We have been using the zebrafish as an in vivo model to answer important unanswered questions in the field of diabetic complications. Our novel in vivo screen led us to the discovery of several loci and pathways associated with glycemic memory phenomenon. Our ongoing studies will lead to better identification of molecular targets and, potentially, to the design of personalized, molecular-based therapies to alleviate the enormous burden of diabetic vasculopathy.

What is your most memorable experience so far while at the NIH?

It is difficult to pinpoint which memory I am most fond of, as the NIH is a set of institutes unlike any other. The resources available and diverse group of bright minds in attendance means that the opportunities for a clinician scientist are endless. I would consider receiving the email from Dr. Weinstein accepting me to his laboratory as one of my most memorable moments at the NIH. He has provided me a home to grow and pursue my academic career goals!

Do you have any hobbies outside of your research and medical work?

When I am not at the NIH, you may find me winding down with music or a good book (political books are the most fascinating to me). As I am originally from Vancouver, Canada, I also enjoy exploring the Washington Metro area with my racing bike. As part of my workout regimen, I have begun boxing, and it has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes. Other than that, visiting my wife, daughter, and mother in Vancouver is high on my priority list when I can get time away from work. We all appreciate trying new restaurants and discussing emerging topics in the world of science. It helps that my wife is also a physician-scientist, and my daughter is currently completing her MPH.