John Paul SanGiovanni
Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 621-8091
Work Summary
The aims of our efforts are to elucidate the science of nutrient-responsive sensing and signaling processes in human systems and to rationally apply this knowledge in development of effective interventions. We apply three approaches in these endeavors; namely: 1. Integrative omics to: a) characterize | catalog structural chemistry and molecular dynamics of nutrient-responsive human systems (receptors, transporters, enzymes and hormones); and, b) determine functional implications of structural variation in elements of these systems. 2. Physiological optics to characterize in vivo human response to nutrient intake (tissue status change and retinal | visual function). 3. Ultra-structural | membrane | organoid biophysics to identify modifiable ('druggable') mechanisms and rate-limiting steps of nutrient sensing | signaling in human retina and brain.
Research Interest
John Paul SanGiovanni serves as Associate Professor of Precision Nutrition in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the BIO5 Institute. He has worked continuously in the field of retinal and brain science for over 30 years, holding positions at the Harvard Medical School (11.5 years), the International Nutrition Foundation (2 years), and The National Institutes of Health (19 years). He also holds positions in the Section on Nutritional Neurosciences in the Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics and Biochemistry at NIAAA and was Associate Professor (Adjunct) in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology at the Georgetown School of Medicine. Dr. SanGiovanni served as the scientific project lead and an analysis team leader for two multi-center phase III clinical trials funded at more than $25M each. These trials resulted in NIH-issued public statements on standards of care and FDA approvals (Preservision®). He served as central leadership on the team contributing the first project to the NIH dbGaP data repository. He has served on numerous technical expert panels for AHRQ and NCCAM. He has chaired the Members in Training Committee at ARVO. Dr. SanGiovanni has published in Science (Cover feature), Nature Medicine (Cover feature), Science Translational Medicine, JAMA, PNAS, J. Neurosci., Pediatrics, FASEB Journal, Circulation, Oncotarget, and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As of February 2020, he has ~15,800 citations, an i10-Index of 53, and an h-Index of 37. He has six works with over 600 citations, two works with over 2000 citations and one work with over 4000. Dr. SanGiovanni received the NIH Director's Award from Dr. Elias Zehouni in 2008 and Dr. Francis Collins in 2011 for his roles in large-scale genomics projects. He received the Early Career Award from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) in 2010 and was a finalist for the Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award the year before. At present Dr. SanGiovanni is applying an integrative omics approach to the study conditionally essential brain-resident nutrients in their capacity to affect brain and retinal cellular signaling systems – systems known to act in atrophic and neovascular retinal diseases, substance use disorders, and schizophrenia. Dr. SanGiovanni is also working with teams to: 1) apply computational methods to identify novel bioactive food-based compounds that bind targets in the human central nervous system associated with retinal function and mood disorders; and, 2) develop non-intrusive in vivo human imaging technologies to measure retinal energy metabolism. He has active collaborations with research teams at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, The Broad Institute, University of Montreal, University of Bristol and Universita Cattolica del S. Cuore. In his tenure at the National Eye Institute (2000-2014), Dr. SanGiovanni focused on leading analytic teams and served in a central leadership role as Project Officer of two 5-year, 4500-person, multi-center clinical trials funded at over $25M each. In this capacity he acted with the PI and Study Chair at the highest level of leadership, while acquiring expertise in all aspects of clinical trials. Dr. SanGiovanni served as a key member of the AREDS and AREDS2 Operations Committees for 13 years: 1) conducting and publishing analyses on AREDS data and model systems to identify compounds tested in AREDS2 (these were brought to market by Bausch & Lomb as the AREDS2 PreserVision® series); 2) selecting advisory boards, the study coordinating center, the drug distribution center, the phenotyping center and the 80+ clinical sites for AREDS2; 3) overseeing negotiations with, and monitoring activities for, the AREDS & AREDS2 data coordinating center, the AREDS & AREDS2 photographic reading center, the AREDS2 drug distribution center, 11 AREDS clinical sites and 80+ AREDS2 sites; and, 4) acting as a scientific advisor to the NIH on the active agents used in the AREDS and AREDS2 and writing overviews for prominent journals and medical textbooks. At the time of this writing, a search in PubMed on the term ‘AREDS’ returned 282 publications – over 40 of these were co-authored by the AREDS team. A search on the term ‘AREDS2’ yielded 58 publications, 14 of which are composed by the AREDS2 team. During his time at the NIH, Dr. SanGiovanni published in Science (cover feature), Nature Medicine (cover feature), Science Translational Medicine (cover feature), JAMA, JAMA Ophthalmology, JAMA Oncology, PNAS, J. Neurosci., Pediatrics, and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As of March 2019, he has > 60 peer-reviewed publications, 14,700 citations, an i10-Index of 53 and an h-Index of 37. Dr. SanGiovanni received the NIH Director's Award from Dr. Elias Zehouni in 2008 and Dr. Francis Collins in 2011 for his roles in large-scale genomics projects. He received the Early Career Award from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) in 2010 and was a finalist for the Sigma Xi Young Investigator Award the year before. He served on technical expert panels for AHRQ and NCCAM. Dr. SanGiovanni trained as a scholar and researcher in clinical trials, neuroscience, perinatology, visual psychophysics, nutritional biochemistry, biostatistics, and epidemiologic research design at Harvard University, Brandeis University, and Boston College. Dr. SanGiovanni received his doctorate (Sc.D.) from the Harvard School of Public Health – his dissertation was focused on diseases of the CNS that manifest as neural cell loss and pathologic angiogenesis (a vascular anomaly that also supports tumor viability).