Hemal Patel, PhD

Vice-Chair for Research & Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, UC San Diego School of Medicine

Dr. Hemal Patel, a professor in the department of Anesthesiology, serves as Vice-Chair for Research at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

A renowned researcher, Dr. Patel was part of the NASA Twins Study, which involved ten teams of scientists who examined the effects of a year-long spaceflight on one of the twin astronauts, Scott Kelly, while his brother, Mark Kelly, stayed on Earth as a control subject. Dr. Patel was one of the researchers who focused on the mitochondrial physiology of the twins, and how it was affected by microgravity, radiation, and other stressors of spaceflight. The NASA Twins Study was a comprehensive and multidimensional analysis of the human body’s adaptation and challenges during extended spaceflight, and it provided valuable insights for future missions to the moon and Mars.

Dr. Patel is currently collaborating with Dr. Joe Dispenza to study the impact of meditation on health and disease management by analyzing changes in molecular and physiological biological markers. They are particularly interested in how meditation can affect the expression and function of SERPINA5, a protein that inhibits the COVID-19 spike protein from entering the cell. This protein was also one of the biomarkers that Dr. Patel measured in the NASA Twins Study, and he found that it was significantly increased in Scott Kelly after his spaceflight, suggesting a protective role against inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, Dr. Patel and Dr. Dispenza are exploring the possibility that meditation can induce similar changes in SERPINA5 and other mitochondrial proteins, and potentially improve immunity and resilience to various diseases.

Dr. Patel’s expertise is in caveolin and mitochondrial biology. He has applied this expertise to the study of basic scientific inquiry into cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, aging, diabetes, and cancer.
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