Source: Interfolio F180

Ilia Droujinine

Assistant Professor
Principal Investigator
Department of Molecular Medicine


Research Focus

Secreted proteins coordinate functions of organs and organisms, and compose a yet uncharacterized communication network. For example, in homeostasis, fat-derived adipokines leptin and adiponectin serve as inter-organ secreted metabolic regulators, and in behavior, major urinary proteins serve as inter-organism excreted pheromones regulating aggression. Secreted factors are also relevant for disease: resulting from poorly-characterized dysfunctional inter-organ signaling, obesity affects 40% of the US population ( Despite their relevance for understanding novel biological processes and diseases, identifying the secreted proteins involved has been challenging. Existing analysis methods have serious limitations that preclude comprehensive identification of low-abundance factors and their origins and destinations. Thus, many additional physiologically- and disease-relevant factors remain to be identified. To address this, our new lab will broadly aim to apply novel high-throughput quantitative approaches we developed to inter-organ and inter-organism communication, in order to understand the nature of the signals involved, which tissue(s) they originate from and target, their functions, and how they are regulated in stress or disease.

We using mice as our primary model system

We established an in vivo global proteomic platform using BirA*G3 to investigate secreted protein trafficking between organs in Drosophila, and identified a fat body (similar to mammalian liver and adipose tissues) conserved secreted protein that regulates muscle activity. This protein acts on muscles through the interaction with a specific receptor. Due to the success of the BirA*G3 method, we have developed and characterized inducible BirA*G3 mice that we are now using to characterize interorgan communication proteins and peptides.

Secreted proteins also coordinate functions of organisms. Animals use chemical cues from their environment and conspecifics to inform decisions necessary for survival. Much is known about how small volatile molecules and pheromones guide behavior; however, whether and how other molecules secreted by conspecifics can influence behavior is unclear. Our research aims to uncover the roles of secreted proteins and peptides in this process.


Projects for new lab members:

  • Identification of novel interorgan communication factors in homeostasis and stress in mammals
  • Identification of novel interorganism communication factors in homeostasis and stress in mammals
  • Mechanistic characterization of novel conserved interorgan and interorganism secreted peptides

Potential Thesis Projects

Mechanistic characterization of a novel conserved interorgan and interorganism secreted peptide identified through genetic and proteomic screens. Identification of novel interorgan communication factors and their receptors in homeostasis and disease.


Ph.D. (Biological and Biomedical Sciences), Harvard University, 2020
B.S. (Honours Biochemistry, Co-op), University of Waterloo, 2011

Professional Experience

2023 - present  Assistant Professor, Scripps Research
2020 - 2023      Scripps Fellow, Scripps Research

Awards & Professional Activities

2023-2026 American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Research Scholar Award

Collaborative Innovation Fund

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grants for Junior Faculty

Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation Award

ASBMB Annual Meeting Presentation Award

 EMBO Poster/Presentation Prize, EMBO Workshop on Organ Crosstalk

2017 Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award, J Biol Chem/ASBMB (best research at a FASEB meeting)

2014-2017 HMS Innovation Grant Program (IGP) Research Award, Harvard Medical School (HMS)

2014-2017 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, HMS

2012-2015 NSERC PGS-D, HMS

2011 Alumni Gold Medal (Highest ranked graduating student in the Univ. of Waterloo Faculty of Science)

2011-2012 NSERC PGS-M, Harvard University

2010 Ontario International Opportunity Education Scholarship, Cambridge, MA

2009 Gretchen Mueller Memorial Biochemistry Scholarship (top biochemistry student), University of Waterloo

2009 Max Planck Society International Research School Scholarship, Freiburg, Germany

2009 President’s International Experience Award, Freiburg, Germany

2009 J.R. Coutts International Experience Award, Freiburg, Germany

2008 NSERC USRA (Undergraduate Student Research Award), University of Waterloo

2008 President’s Research Award, University of Waterloo

2006-2007 CHEM 13 News Research Assistantships (top 0.3% finish in Canada in chemistry exam)

2006-2011 Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship, Government of Ontario

2006 President’s Scholarship of Distinction, University of Waterloo

Selected Publications

Yang, R.; Meyer, A. S.; Droujinine, I. A.; Udeshi, N. D.; Hu, Y.; Guo, J.; McMahon, J. A.; Carey, D. K.; Xu, C.; Fang, Q.; Sha, J.; Qin, S.; Rocco, D.; Wohlschlegel, J.; Ting, A. Y.; Carr, S. A.; Perrimon, N.; McMahon, A. P. A genetic model for proximity labelling of the mammalian secretome. Open Biology 2022, 12, 220149.

Droujinine, I. A.; Zeng, R.; Yang, R.; Wang, D.; Udeshi, N. D.; Ting, A. Y.; Tabatabai, A.; Svinkina, T.; Rocco, D.; Perrimon, N.; Mu, L.; Meyer, A. S.; Mcmahon, J. A.; Mcmahon, A. P.; Hu, Y.; Guo, J.; Droujinine, I. A.; Carr, S. A.; Carey, D. K.; Branon, T. C.; Bosch, J. A.; Asara, J. M. Proteomics of protein trafficking by in vivo tissue-specific labeling.. Nature Communications 2021, 12, 2382.

Droujinine, I. A.

Elucidating Protein Communication Between Organs and Organisms in Homeostasis and Stress

. 2020.

Droujinine, I. A.; Perrimon, N. The Multidimensional Organization of Interorgan Communication Networks.. Developmental Cell 2019, 50, 395-396.

Mu, L.; Droujinine, I. A.; Droujinine, I. A.; Lee, J.; Wipf, M.; Davis, P.; Hannant, J.; Reed, M. A.; Adams, C. M. Nanoelectronic Platform for Ultrasensitive Detection of Protein Biomarkers in Serum using DNA Amplification.. Analytical Chemistry 2017, 89, 11325-11331.

Droujinine, I. A.; Perrimon, N. Interorgan Communication Pathways in Physiology: Focus on Drosophila.. Annual Review of Genetics 2016, 50, 539-570.