Joseph G. Hacia is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. His laboratory focuses on translational research relevant to peroxisomes, membrane-bound metabolic organelles involved in numerous cell signaling pathways. This research includes investigating gene therapy, gene editing, and small molecule therapies for peroxisomal disorders including Zellweger spectrum disorder, adult Refsum disease, and X-linked adrenoleuokodystrophy. In addition, they are interested in identifying human adaptions to diet, such as the increased exposure to animal fats. They have uncovered human-specific differences in the metabolism of phytanic acid, a branched chain fatty acid present in ruminant fats, dairy products, and certain fish, relative to the great apes, which could affect the function of multiple organ systems and transcriptomes of these species. Similar human-specific differences were observed when investigating the levels of red blood cell plasmalogens, membrane ether phospholipids critical for numerous physiological processes ranging from cognition to reproduction to aging.
Dr. Hacia was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow, a recipient of the American Society of Human Genetics Postdoctoral Translational Research Award, and a V Foundation for Cancer Research Scholar. He has served on the editorial boards of Genome Research, Nucleic Acids Research, BMC Genomics, and BMC Medical Genomics and served on many NIH grant review panels. Furthermore, he is a member of scientific advisory boards for rare disease foundations including the Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders, RhizoKids International, the United Leukodystrophy Foundation, Global DARE Foundation, Hannah's Hope Fund, COMBINEDBrain, and the Yaya Foundation. Currently, he is the corresponding Principle Investigator for the NIH-funded research resource "Mouse Models for Peroxisome Research".
Dr. Hacia is active in graduate teaching and has been a Chair of Medical Education at the USC Keck School of Medicine. He has been awarded the Kaiser-Permanente Excellence in Teaching Award for the Basic Science Years of Medical School multiple times and was elected a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Medical Honor Society by vote of the Class of 2022, Keck School of Medicine.