Joe Varghese


Department of Biochemistry,

Christian Medical College,

Bagayam, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India – 632002

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



Degree Period Institution University

  • MBBS 1997-2002 KIMS, Bangalore RGUHS, Bangalore, Karnataka
  • MD (Biochemistry) 2004-2007 Christian Medical College, Vellore TNMGRMU, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • DNB (Biochemistry) 2007 Christian Medical College, Vellore NBE, New Delhi
  • Ph.D. (Biochemistry) 2019 Christian Medical College, Vellore TNMGRMU, Chennai, Tamil Nadu


I am currently involved in studies on dysregulation of iron metabolism associated with diabetes mellitus.

A number of epidemiological studies suggest a strong association between insulin resistance and increased body iron stores. However, whether increased body iron is a cause or consequence of insulin resistance is not known. 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.

Another area of interest is the effect of iron on insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells. A few studies have suggested that the primary cause for diabetes in conditions associated with iron overload (such as beta thalassemia and hemochromatosis) is pancreatic beta cell secretory defect. However, very little is known about the direct effects of increased iron on beta cell function. Planned and on-going work in the lab is aimed at studying this.

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.


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. 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.

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. 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) 2018 Sep 1;1862(9):1870-82.
  2. Varghese J, James JV, Sagi S, Chakraborty S, Sukumaran A, Ramakrishna B, Jacob M . Decreased hepatic iron in response to alcohol may contribute to alcohol-induced suppression of hepcidin. Br J Nutr. 2016 Apr 15:1-9.
  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 J Med Ethics 2015 Apr;12(2):82-7
  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 . BMC Med Edu 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. Br J Nutr. 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. Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Jul 1;614(1-3):114-21.
  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 (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. CDSA research training fellowship for the year 2018-19 to train at IdibGi, Girona, Spain (March 21st to May 2nd 2019)
  2. Early Career Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance (2012 - 2016) to study the role of iron overload in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance.
  3. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2018
  4. Third prize for Oral Presentation (Faculty - Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2016
  5. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2015
  6. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2014
  7. Gold medal for best research (oral presentation) among faculty members (Basic Science) at the Annual Research Day 2013
  8. Molly and Thomas Bhanu Award for the Best Teacher (2012) – Christian Medical College, Vellore
  9. 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.