Dr. Joseph Rutkowski

Ph.D. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) with Professor Melody Swartz

Postdoc: UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas with Professor Philipp Scherer

“People generally know little about lymphatic circulation, yet it is critically important in regulating tissue health and response to disease… in everything from Crohn’s disease to cancer and potentially multiple sclerosis to the metabolic syndrome. My lab utilizes a host of cell- and tissue-specific genetic manipulations to inducibly express or eliminate factors that will either (1) alter lymphatic function for us to identify the impact on tissue health or (2) change the biology of the surrounding tissue to identify factors regulating lymphatic function. For example, by inducing increased lymphatic vessel density in adipose tissue (your fat) or the kidney, we improve insulin signaling in obesity or reduce blood pressure under hypertensive stimuli, respectively. Lots of questions and tools, yet so little time.”

Research Specialties

Medical Genetics – Human and Animal.

Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Genetics.

How long have you been a faculty member at Texas A&M?

I started at Texas A&M in early 2016.

What made you choose to join the A&M faculty?  

Texas A&M has a long history and international reputation as a hub of lymphatic vessel physiology research. I met several of my now colleagues from MPHY nearly 15 years ago as a young Ph.D. trainee at a time when interest in lymphatic research was really starting to take off. Despite my research career meandering a bit, it has always come back to my interests in lymphatics developed long ago. The environment here allows me to maintain that passion.

What makes A&M stand out above other institutions? What is the best part about being part of the Genetics program?

The Genetics program is great as it allows students and faculty from a broad range of departments and research programs to come together and share research interests and education. Not to dig on my COM colleagues, but I usually enjoy GENE research presentations from the wildlife or entomology groups more so…. I would never be exposed to this in my home department, despite the fact that, as researchers, we’re essentially using the same tools and techniques. Texas A&M is a quite collegial place, with faculty genuinely interested in helping each other and mentoring students appropriately. Involvement in a multidisciplinary program just makes it that much more fun and interesting.

Fun Facts:

When I am not in the lab, I am… 

In Pennsylvania I hunted and fished, in Switzerland, I hiked and climbed. In Texas, thanks to the heat, I’m mostly holed up inside. I’m currently focusing on not screwing up my kids, ages 2 and 6, too much… hey, they need to learn some dad jokes.

My favorite restaurant in College Station is… 

I don’t think I have a favorite, but I enjoy amping up my cholesterol at Hullabaloo Diner or Blake’s Steaks.

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

Naked mole rat… an evolutionary marvel. And Rufus was pretty cool on Kim Possible.