Dhanansayan (Dhanu) Shanmuganayagam, PhD

Assistant Professor

  • Director, Biomedical & Genomic Research Group
  • Director, UW Neurofibromatosis Translational Research Program
  • Director, Translational Research Facility
  • Honorary Fellow, UW Carbone Cancer Center

(608) 890-1332

1675 Observatory Drive, Rm 666
Madison, WI 53706


  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Aging/Caloric Restriction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006-2009
  • PhD, Nutritional Sciences/Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006
  • BS, Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997

Research Interests

Dr. Shanmuganayagam’s research focuses on the development and utilization of pigs as homologous models to close the translational gap in human disease research, taking advantage of the overwhelming similarities between pigs and humans in terms of genetics, anatomy, physiology, and immunology. He and his colleagues created the human-sized Wisconsin Miniature Swine (WMS™) breed that is unique to the university. The breed exhibits greater physiological similarity to humans, particularly in vascular biology and in modeling metabolic disorders and obesity. He currently leads genetic engineering of swine at UW. His team has created over fifteen genetic porcine models including several of pediatric genetic cancer-predisposition disorders such as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). In the context of NF1, his lab is studying the role of alternative splicing of the nf1 gene on the tissue-specific function of neurofibromin and whether gene therapy to modulate the regulation of this splicing can be used as a viable treatment strategy for children with the disorder.

Dr. Shanmuganayagam is also currently leading the efforts to establish the University of Wisconsin Center for Biomedical Swine Research & Innovation (CBSRI) that will leverage the translatability of research in pig models and UW-Madison’s unique swine and biomedical research infrastructure, resources, and expertise to conduct innovative basic and translational research on human diseases. The central mission of CBSRI is to innovate and accelerate the discovery and development of clinically relevant therapies and technologies. The center will also serve to innovate graduate and medical training. As the only center of its kind in the United States, CBSRI will make UW-Madison a hub of translational research and industry-partnered biomedical innovation.

Department of Animal Sciences Faculty Profile