Despina Sitara, PhD: FASEB CARES Award Recipient

Despina Sitara, PhD

Despina Sitara graduated from the University of the West of England and received her master’s from the University of Bristol. She obtained her PhD from the Queen Mary University of London and subsequently completed her postdoctoral training in endocrinology and bone biology at Harvard University. After postdoctoral training, in 2010, Sitara was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology (now Department of Molecular Pathobiology) at New York University College of Dentistry and, in 2012, to the faculty of the Department of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine.

Sitara’s research focuses on the mechanisms and treatment of chronic diseases, particularly the molecular and cellular pathways that link Fibroblast Growth Factor 23 (FGF23) to disease. FGF23 is an exciting hormone widely recognized as a major regulator of phosphate homeostasis and bone mineralization. High levels of FGF23 have been associated with hypophosphatemic rickets in children and adults, but also chronic kidney disease (CKD), left ventricular hypertrophy, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and, recently, obesity, highlighting the importance of FGF23 in well-being and pathological conditions. Sitara’s work significantly contributed to the current understanding of the role of FGF23 in mineral homeostasis and skeletogenesis. Moreover, groundbreaking data from her laboratory linked, for the first time, FGF23 to hematopoietic stem cell production and erythroid cell differentiation, provided evidence for a causative role of FGF23 in the development of CKD-associated anemia, a debilitating complication of CKD, and demonstrated that inhibiting FGF23 rescues renal anemia and iron deficiency and ameliorates inflammation in a CKD mouse model.

Sitara’s research has been reported in numerous peer-reviewed publications and has been funded by the American Heart Association and the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Awards, including Young Investigator Awards from the Frontiers of Skeletal Biology, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, and Advances in Mineral Metabolism, have recognized her contributions. She also received the Dean’s Scholars Award from Harvard University for two consecutive years, Career Enhancement Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, Goddard Junior Faculty Fellowship from New York University, and numerous travel awards from several scientific societies.

Sitara is a member of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, American Society for Nutrition, and Endocrine Society, FASEB member societies.