Joe Varghese


Department of Biochemistry,

Christian Medical College,

Bagayam, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India – 632002

Phone: +91-416-2284267 (office), +91-416-2284458 (lab)




Basic science research

I am involved in studies on dysregulation of iron metabolism associated with various diseases.

A number of epidemiological studies have documented the fact that insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are associated with increases in markers of iron status in the body. However, it is not known whether iron overload is a cause or consequence of insulin resistance. In order to study the dysregulation of iron homeostasis associated with insulin resistance, I was awarded an Early Career Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance (2012-16). The India Alliance funded work was aimed at understanding the molecular basis of the interplay between iron homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.

In the past, I have received the Rapid Grant for Young Investigators (RGYI) by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India (2008-2011), to study the role of heme oxygenase – 1 (HO-1) in the pathogenesis of iron overload associated with alcoholic liver disease. It is known that chronic alcoholism is associated with iron overload. Such iron accumulation can cause oxidative tissue damage, and, therefore, may play a role in the pathogenesis of liver damage associated with chronic alcohol intake. However, the cause(s) for the presence of increased iron in the liver in this condition are not entirely clear. Work on this project was aimed at elucidating the mechanisms that may be involved.

Research in Medical Education

In my teaching, I explore innovative methods to help students understand the importance of a sound foundation in the basic medical sciences for their further development as clinicians. In this connection, I am especially interested in the use of electronic resources (e-learning) as an aid to help students learn the clinical and applied aspects of Biochemistry more effectively. I also have a special interest in teaching undergraduate and post-graduate students the basics of ethical academic/research writing.


Undergraduate training

I teach undergraduate medical and nursing students. For the first year MBBS students, I teach the modules on molecular biology, water and electrolyte balance, heme metabolism, immunology, liver function tests and integration of metabolism.

Postgraduate training

I am involved in the training of MD (Biochemistry) students. I am the coordinator of the postgraduate training programme. I serve as a resource person for weekly post-graduate seminars and journal clubs. In addition, I am involved in the supervision (as co-guide) of research work undertaken by postgraduate students as part of their dissertation work.




Research papers:

(The names in bold indicate the authors from the Department of Biochemistry)

  1. Varghese J, James JV, Vaulont S, Mckie A and Jacob M (2018). Increased intracellular iron in mouse primary hepatocytes in vitro causes activation of the Akt pathway but decreases its response to insulin. Biochim. Biophys. Acta (Gen Subjects)
  2. Varghese J, James JV, Sagi S, Chakraborty S, Sukumaran A, Ramakrishna B, Jacob M (2016). Decreased hepatic iron in response to alcohol may contribute to alcohol-induced suppression of hepcidin. Br J Nutr. 2016 Apr 15:1-9. [Epub ahead of print].
  3. Nagappan AS, Varghese J, James JV, Jacob M. Indomethacin induces endoplasmic reticulum stress, but not apoptosis, in the rat kidney. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Aug 15;761:199-205
  4. Varghese J, and Jacob M. Do medical students require education on issues related to plagiarism? Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (2014): 1-5.
  5. Nagappan AS, Varghese J, Pranesh GT, Jeyaseelan V, Jacob M. Indomethacin inhibits activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase in the rat kidney: Possible role of this effect in the pathogenesis of indomethacin-induced renal damage. Chem Biol Interact. 2014 Aug 8;221C:77-87.
  6. Patel N, Varghese J, Masaratana P, Latunde-Dada GO, Jacob M, Simpson RJ, McKie AT. The transcription factor ATOH8 is regulated by erythropoietic activity and regulates HAMP transcription and cellular pSMAD1,5,8 levels. Br J Haematol. 2014 Feb;164(4):586-96.
  7. Varghese J, Faith M and Jacob M. Impact of e-resources on learning in biochemistry: first-year medical students’ perceptions (2012).BMC Medical Education 2012 May 16;12:21.
  8. Sukumaran A, Varghese J, Tamilselvan J, Jeyaseelan V, Mani T, Simpson RJ, McKie AT, Jacob M. Effects of acute and chronic inflammation on proteins involved in duodenal iron absorption in mice: a time-course study. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Feb 24:1-8
  9. Varghese J, Faith M and Jacob M. Zinc prevents indomethacin-induced renal damage in rats by ameliorating oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction (2009) European Journal of Pharmacology, Volume 614, Issues 1-3, 1 July 2009, Pages 114-121
  10. Varghese J, Faith M and Jacob M. Impact of electronic resources on students’ learning in Biochemistry: a preliminary report (2010). CMC Alumni Journal, Vol 44(1), April 2010, Pages 62 – 66.

Chapters in books

Co-author of Harper’s Illustrated Biochemistry –29th (2012), 30th edition (2015) and 31st editions (2018)– McGraw-Hill Publishers (Lange)

  1. David A. Bender, Joe Varghese, Molly Jacob and Robert K. Murray. Chapter 48. Clinical Biochemistry
  2. Peter J. Kennelly, Robert K. Murray, Molly Jacob and Joe Varghese. Chapter 52. Plasma Proteins & Immunoglobulins
  3. Molly Jacob, Joe Varghese, Robert K. Murray, & P. Anthony Weil. Chapter 56. Cancer: An Overview


  1. Early Career Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance (Jan 2012) to study the role of iron overload in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance.
  2. Junior Medical Faculty Training Fellowship (JMTF) for the year 2009 to train at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, USA, from November to December 2009.


  1. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2018
  2. Third prize for Oral Presentation (Faculty - Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2016
  3. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2015
  4. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2014
  5. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2013
  6. Molly and Thomas Bhanu Award for the Best Teacher (2012) – Christian Medical College, Vellore
  7. Travel grant awarded by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) under the International Travel Scheme to attend the 7th annual meeting of the International BioIron Society (IBIS) – BioIron 2017 held at the Mayer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA, from the 7th to 11th May 2017