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S. Ansar Ahmed, BVSc, PhD

Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies
  • Professor of Immunology
  • Director, Summer Veterinary Scholars Research Program
  • Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences
S. Ansar Ahmed
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
205 Duck Pond Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Leukemia Foundation of America Fellow, 1985–1987
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
San Antonio, TX

PhD, 1985
School of Veterinary Studies
Murdoch University
Perth, Australia

BVSc, 1978
University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore
Bengaluru, India

2017–present
Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2017–present
Head, Biomedical Veterinary Sciences and Graduate Program


Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2017–present
Testing Facility Management

Good Laboratory Practice Program
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2014–present
Faculty Member

Health Sciences, Translational Biology, Medicine, Biology, and Health Program
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Roanoke, VA

2008–2017
Head, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology


Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2006–present
Director, Summer Veterinary Scholars Research Program

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
* Funded by NIH-T35, Boehringer-Ingelheim, and VA-MD Vet Med, the SVSR Program trains DVM students, who are selected from a national pool of applicants, for research in biomedical sciences.

2007–2008
Interim Head, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2002–2008
Director, Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
* Now renamed, the college's Center for One Health Research is a collaboration with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine to address infectious diseases, immunology research, and the development of vaccines using animal models.

2001–present
Professor of Immunology

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

The primary research interest in Dr. S. Ansar Ahmed's laboratory is to investigate why the immune system launches a misdirected attack on self-tissues leading to devastating chronic autoimmune diseases, which afflict millions and costs billions in health care costs. Lupus is a prototypical autoimmune disease that also afflicts domesticated species, including dogs and cats. We employ various in vivo wildtype, gene knockouts, and transgenic lupus murine models to delineate pathogenic autoimmune mechanisms. Thus far, there are no effective cures for lupus. Therefore, our longterm goal is to develop innovative therapies for autoimmune conditions since current therapies (immunosuppressive drugs) have significant side effects.

Our laboratory is actively engaged in addressing the following two main central questions in autoimmune diseases:

  • First, why do autoimmune disorders occur preferentially in females? Our laboratory is nationally and internationally recognized in this area. We are actively identifying the underlying reasons for the female predominance of lupus and the contribution of estrogens (including synthetic and environmental) towards the risk for developing autoimmune diseases. In particular, we are investigating how hormonal factors (e.g., natural and environmental estrogens) alter signaling pathways, transcription factors, and gene activation events involved in the induction of inflammatory cytokines in murine models of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
  • Second, what is the role of epigenetics in lupus inflammation? We are investigating how epigenetics (microRNA, altered methylation, and acetylation) influences lupus and inflammation. microRNAs are naturally occurring small RNAs that regulate the immune system in healthy and autoimmune individuals. We were one of the first laboratories to identify a signature expression profile of microRNAs in mice exposed to estrogen, and between sexes in lupus-prone mice. Importantly, select microRNAs have been shown to directly down-regulate inflammatory proteins. We are utilizing conditional miRNA knockout mice in lupus background to understand how they regulate autoimmune conditions. The identification of signature microRNA expression profile in autoimmune states is of prognostic, diagnostic, and therapeutic importance.

Dr. Ahmed also directs the DVM summer program, which provides research experience opportunities for DVM students.

2016–present
Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2014–present
Faculty Member

Health Sciences, Translational Biology, Medicine, Biology, and Health Program
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Roanoke, VA

2008–2016
Department Head

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

2001–present
Professor of Immunology

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

  • American Association of Immunologists
  • International Cytokine Society
  • Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD)
  • Phi Zeta Kappa Honor Society
  • Member of Grant Review Panels: Served on 26 NIH study sections, and 12 National Foundation grant review panels, and several national-level research policy panels

Selected Recent Publications

  1. Dai R, Edwards MR, Heid B, Ansar Ahmed, S. 17beta-Estradiol and 17alpha-Ethinyl Estradiol Exhibit Immunologic and Epigenetic Regulatory Effects in NZB/WF1 Female Mice. Endocrinology. 2019;1160(1):101-18. PMID: 30418530. PMCID: PMC6305969.
  2. Wang Z, Heid B, Dai R* Ansar Ahmed, S.* Similar dysregulation of lupus-associated miRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and splenic lymphocytes in MRL/lpr mice. Lupus Sci Med. 2018;5(1):e000290. PMID: 30515297; PMCID: PMC6241985. *Corresponding author
  3. Thomas Brickler, Amanda Hazy, Fernanda Guilhaume Correa, Rujuan Dai, Elizabeth Kowalski, Ross Dickerman, Jiang Chen, Xia Wang, Paul Morton, Abby Whittington, Ansar Ahmed, S, and Michelle Theus. Angiopoietin/Tie2 axis regulates the age-at-injury cerebrovascular response to traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neuroscience. 2018; 38 (45): 9618-9634 PMID: 30242049 PMCID: PMC6222064, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0914-18.2018.
  4. Edwards MR, Dai R, Heid B, Cecere TE, Khan D, Mu Q, Cowan C, Luo XM, Ansar Ahmed S. Commercial rodent diets differentially regulate autoimmune glomerulonephritis, epigenetics and microbiota in MRL/lpr mice. International Immunology. 2017 Jun 1;29(6):263-276. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxx033. PMID: 28637300. PMCID: PMC5890898.
  5. Dai R*, Lu R, Ansar Ahmed S. The Upregulation of Genomic Imprinted DLK1-Dio3 miRNAs in Murine Lupus Is Associated with Global DNA Hypomethylation. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(4):e0153509. PMID: 27070142. PMCID: PMC4829153. *Corresponding author