Suraj Unniappan

Yoshitaka Nagahama Lectureship 2016

Professor Suraj Unniappan awarded by the Y. Nagahama lectureship in 2016 in Gothenborg
Professor Suraj Unniappan awarded by the Y. Nagahama lectureship in 2016 in Gothenborg

Dr. Suraj Unniappan is a tenured full professor at the Department of Veterinary
Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), University of
Saskatchewan, Canada. He also serves as the Director of the Endocrine Service Core
Lab at the WCVM. During 2007-2012, Suraj was an assistant and then associate
professor at the Department of Biology, York University. Suraj obtained BSc and MSc
(both in Zoology) from University of Kerala, India, followed by his Ph.D. in Cell Biology
and Physiology in 2004 from the University of Alberta, Canada under the supervision of
late Dr. Richard (Dick) E. Peter.
He then completed a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded postdoctoral training in biomedical research from the University of British Columbia in 2006,
mentored by Dr. Timothy Kieffer.
His Laboratory of Integrative Neuroendocrinology focuses on three research themes: (i)
the endocrine regulation of energy homeostasis in mammals, (ii) the neuroendocrine
integration of reproduction and metabolism in fish, and (iii) the endocrine basis of
diseases in domestic animals of commercial importance. More recently, he is leading a
team to characterize the metabolic and glucoregulatory actions of nesfatin-1 and
nesfatin-1-like peptide, two naturally occurring, biologically active, orphan ligands.
His research program received peer-reviewed funding from several agencies including
the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, CIHR
and Canada Foundation for Innovation. He mentors a large number of trainees, and has
authored about 70 peer-reviewed articles with them.
Suraj is a recipient of several awards including the Pickford Medal in Comparative
Endocrinology, inaugural Early Researcher Award from the US Endocrine Society, Bob
Boutilier Award from the Canadian Society of Zoologists, Discovery Accelerator Award
from the NSERC, CIHR New Investigator Award, Zoetis Animal Health Research
Excellence Award, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) Top Biomedical
Researcher Award, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) Early
Researcher Award, York University Early Researcher Award, Elsevier Top Reviewer
and Top Cited Awards, and fellowships from the CIHR, Canadian Diabetes Association
and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. He is currently an associate
editor of General and Comparative Endocrinology, and served as an editor for Frontiers
in Cellular Endocrinology and Frontiers in Experimental Endocrinology. Suraj also
serves a reviewer for numerous journals, and national and international funding
Dr. Unniappan’s research using fishes made several seminal discoveries that led to
multidimensional future research, and growth of the field. His major contributions to fish
endocrinology as an independent investigator within the first 10 years of appointment
comprise of many “firsts”. These include: the characterization of ghrelin and ghrelin
acyl-O-transferase sequences in fishes, a role for ghrelin on fish feeding, glucose
transport, digestive enzymes, and reproduction; identification of galanin, nesfatin-1, and
a nesfatin-1-like peptide in fish, characterization of metabolic, reproductive and
cardiovascular functions of nesfatin-1, and irisin regulation of fish feeding and
cardiovascular physiology.

Selected key publications on fish endocrinology (as an independent investigator):

  • Blanco AM, Bertucci JI, Ramesh N, Delgado MJ, Valenciano AI, Unniappan S. 2017.
    Ghrelin Facilitates GLUT2-, SGLT1- and SGLT2-mediated Intestinal Glucose Transport
    in Goldfish (Carassius auratus). Scientific Reports. 45024. doi: 10.1038/srep45024.
  • Sundarrajan L, Unniappan S. 2017. Small Interfering RNA Mediated Knockdown of Irisin
    Suppresses Food Intake and Modulates Appetite Regulatory Peptides in Zebrafish.
    General and Comparative Endocrinology. Accepted – In Press.
  • Blanco AM, Bertucci JI, Sánchez-Bretaño A, Delgado MJ, Valenciano AI, Unniappan S.
    2017. Ghrelin modulates gene and protein expression of digestive enzymes in the
    intestine and hepatopancreas of goldfish (Carassius auratus) via the GHS-R1a:
    Possible roles of PLC/PKC and AC/PKA intracellular signaling pathways. Molecular and
    Cellular Endocrinology. 442:165-181.
  • Sundarrajan S, Blanco AM, Bertucci J, Ramesh N, Canosa LF, Unniappan S. 2016.
    Nesfatin-1-Like Peptide Encoded in Nucleobindin-1 in Goldfish is a Novel Anorexigen
    Modulated by Sex Steroids, Macronutrients and Daily Rhythm. Scientific Reports. 2016
    Jun 22;6:28377. doi: 10.1038/srep28377.
    Nair N, Gerger C, Hatef H, Weber LP,
  • Unniappan S. 2016. Ultrasonography reveals in
    vivo dose dependent inhibition of end systolic and diastolic volumes, heart rate and
    cardiac output by nesfatin-1 in zebrafish. General and Comparative Endocrinology.
  • Gonzalez R, Unniappan S. 2015. Mass Spectrometry Assisted Confirmation of the
    Inability of Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 to Cleave Goldfish Peptide YY(1-36), and the Lack of
    Anorexigenic Effects of PYY(3-36) in Goldfish (Carassius auratus). Fish Physiology and
  • Hatef A, Yufa R, Unniappan S. 2015. Ghrelin O-Acyl Transferase in Zebrafish Is an
    Evolutionarily Conserved Peptide Upregulated During Calorie Restriction. Zebrafish.
  • Gonzalez R, Shepperd E, Thiruppugazh V, Lohan S, Grey CL, Chang JP, Unniappan S.
    2012. Nesfatin-1 regulates the hypothalamo-pituitary-ovarian axis of fish. Biology of
    Reproduction. 87:84.(1-11).
  • Kerbel A, Unniappan S. 2011. Nesfatin-1 Suppresses Energy Intake, Co-localizes
    Ghrelin and Inhibits Brain Preproghrelin and Ghrelin Receptor mRNA Expression in
    Goldfish. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 24:366-77.
  • Gonzalez R, Kerbel B, Chun A, Unniappan S. 2010. Molecular, Cellular and
    Physiological Evidences for the Anorexigenic Actions of Nesfatin-1 in Goldfish. PLoS
    ONE 5(12): e15201.