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1991 …2023

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Personal profile


Barbara Nikolajczyk is a Professor of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences at University of Kentucky.  She received her B.S. from The Ohio State University and her Ph.D. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by post-doctoral work at Tufts and Brandeis Universities. Her first independent position was at Boston University School of Medicine, and she moved from there to University of Kentucky in 2017. Her research focuses on identifying the role immune cells play in human obesity and aging, and the associated comorbidities including type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease. Dr. Nikolajczyk is a member of The American Association of Immunologists, The American Diabetes Association, and the International Association of Dental Researchers. She has been funded as Principal Investigator on grants from the NIH (NIA, NIDDK, NIDCR, and NIAID), the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association and the Arthritis Foundation.  She is currently serving as Associate Director for Translational Research in Diabetes at the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, and Director of the Alliance for Diabetes and Obesity Research, both based at University of Kentucky. Her generation of multiple senior author manuscripts with 15+ authors highlight success in leading cross-institutional and multidisciplinary teams of immunologists, clinical researchers, metabolism and analytical experts to provide mechanistic insights with unequivocal relevance to human inflammation.

Research Interests

Dr. Nikolajczyk an experienced cellular and molecular immunologist who has been leading analysis of immune system changes and metabolic control of inflammation as it occurs in aging, obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and periodontal disease patients and in mice for the past 15 yrs. Her team was the first to report pro-inflammatory changes in lymphocytes in T2D patients, and the first to detail an unexpected crosstalk between B cells and T cells that regulates inflammation in obesity-associated insulin resistance. Multiple papers published in Cell Metabolism expanded the lab's use of multivariate mathematical approaches to identify metabolic underpinnings of T2D-associated inflammation. Work on inflammatory profiles have emphasized different sources of inflammation than those highlighted by mouse models; therefore, this approach will allow the lab to bridge the gap between animal models of inflammatory conditions like obesity and clinically critical mechanisms of pathogenesis. Follow-up work recently published as Diabetes’ “Paper of the Month” (Feb. 2022), similarly defined T cell inflammation in prediabetes for the first time, and mechanistically described the role of regulatory T cells in CD4+ T effector cell metabolism and thus inflammation in this context. New work focuses on the effect of metabolically active drugs on obesity-associated inflammation, in part through impacts on T cell mitochondria.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University Of North Carolina


Bachelor of Science, The Ohio State University


External positions

Editorial Board, American Journal of Physiology- Endocrinology and Metabolism

Jul 1 2022 → …

Journal Advisory Board, Cell Metabolism

Sep 1 2020 → …


  • RZ Other systems of medicine


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