Dr. Iyengar is a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Genetics and Genome Sciences, and Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She also holds an appointment in the Center for Clinical Investigation. Dr. Iyengar joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University in 1997, after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh and completing post-doctoral work at Yale University. After joining the faculty she established a program in the genetic analysis of complex human diseases, and currently directs a multi-faceted laboratory that bridges both bench and computational research in the areas of vision, kidney biology and speech and language disorders.
Her laboratory is responsible for identification of genes for many different diseases, most recently for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD). Her research shows that these diseases are not necessarily caused by changes in a single gene, but by common and rare variation in many genes acting in conjunction. Finding these changes requires processing of information from many sources, including detailed family and medical histories of participants, using high-dimensional arrays or direct sequencing to capture information on the genome, harvesting tissue from affected individuals followed by functional genomic analysis to comprehend which genes show aberrant profiles, all of which her laboratory has accomplished. Having found novel genes for AMD and FECD, she has expanded her work and is now trying to understand why these changes lead to disease. Thus, the scope of her research is broad, multidisciplinary, and frequently collaborative with other disciplines.
Findings from her laboratory are described in over 120 primary research papers, many of which are published in leading scientific journals. Dr. Iyengar’s research is supported via strong NIH grant funding, with her being the Principal Investigator of two consortia, the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes Study, and the Fuchs’ Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy Multicenter Genetics Study. Dr. Iyengar is a mentor to several junior faculty at Case, and many of her former graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are now faculty with NIH funding. To summarize her career so far, she is a well established genetic epidemiologist, who has lead the fields of the genetics of vision, renal and speech-sound disorder at Case Western Reserve University and beyond.