Dr. Hegde earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Neurosciences from the University of Mysore, India in 2006. He performed his graduate research at the Max-Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, Gottingen, Germany as a DST-DAAD visiting fellow, and at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India. He held an Assistant Professor appointment at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas, USA before becoming a member of the Houston Methodist Research Institute in 2013. As a member of the Research Institute cancer and neuroscience research programs, he directs a research program focusing on understanding the role of genome damage repair in cell death (neurodegenerative diseases) and cell proliferation (cancer) and its potential exploitation in therapeutics. Dr. Hegde has also been a member of grant review boards for the Alzheimer’s Association, USA, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, French Scientific Grants (FMRM) and the Motor Neuron Disease Association, UK, in addition to NIH and DOD-CDMRP study sections. He is a Deputy Chief Editor for the Springer Journal Metabolic Brain Disease and Associate Editor for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Jacobs Journal of Radiation Oncology and Research, Journal Neuroscience Research and Therapeutics, the Chinese Journal of Biology, and a peer-reviewer for more than 30 international journals.
Dr. Hegde has published over 75 peer-reviewed publications including more than a dozen as senior author. He has also published five book chapters and fundamental review articles which have received nearly 5000 citations. He has received several awards including gold medals in Masters, New Investigator awards from the Alzheimer’s Association, the Environmental Mutagenesis Society, Researcher of the Month (May 2011) at UTMB and prestigious Gopal Krishna Memorial Young Scientist award from ASIOA. He has recently been awarded the Career Cornerstone award from Houston Methodist for outstanding contribution to translational research.
Dr. Hegde’s research program focuses on delineating the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases with a primary emphasis on genome damage and their repair inhibitions/deficiencies in neurons. His laboratory is interested in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Stroke. He showed that DNA repair inhibitions/deficiencies play a key role in the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases. He demonstrated that transition metals, iron and copper, act as a ‘double whammy’ by both inducing DNA damage and by inhibiting their repair via direct binding and oxidation of NEIL enzymes involved in oxidized DNA base repair. These studies were funded by American Parkinson’s Disease Association. His current studies focus on characterizing the role of ALS-linked RNA binding protein TDP-43 in DNA double-strand break repair and testing the hypothesis that TDP-43’s nuclear clearance and aggregation in ALS (and other neurodegenerative diseases) cause deficient DNA double-strand repair and contributes significantly to cell death. In another project funded by Alzheimer’s Association’s New Investigator grant, he is delineating the mechanism of genotoxicity of amyloid proteins and exploring its prevention by natural compounds. In collaboration with Dr. Sankar Mitra, he is also exploring the potential of genome repair inhibitions in cancer therapeutics. Dr. Hegde’s research program is supported by NIH/NINDS R01, Muscular Dystrophy Association, ALS Association, Alzheimer’s Association and Melo Foundation.