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Integrative Physiology & Metabolism

The laboratories in this section focus on elucidating pathophysiological mechanisms in insulin resistance, obesity, and the development of type 2 diabetes, and determining how these are modified by exercise, diet, and other factors. 

The Kahn laboratory studies insulin action, insulin resistance, and the developmental control of adipose tissue, and investigates the relationship between insulin resistance, obesity, and longevity. 

Dr. Tseng’s lab investigates the regulation of energy homeostasis, with a specific focus on the role of developmental signals in brown versus white adipose cell fate, the identification and characterization of progenitor/stem cells that give rise to different adipose depots, and the integration of central and peripheral controls on whole body energy homeostasis.

The Goodyear lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate the beneficial effects of exercise on glucose homeostasis and metabolic disease. Their studies range from experiments using muscle cell culture and animal models to human physiology.

The Patti laboratory investigates how environmental factors cause increased risk for type 2 diabetes.  For example, alterations in nutrition or metabolism experienced during pregnancy or early life markedly increase risk for diabetes occurring during adult life, and may even increase risk in subsequent generations.  We continue to identify genes and pathways in the cell which alter metabolism in stem cells and other tissues in the body which are important for normal insulin response and maintaining normal blood glucose levels.  Work from all of these laboratories could lead to the discovery of new targets for the treatment of diabetes and related diseases.

Recent “highpoints”:

  • Discovered that a protein known for inducing bone growth (BMP-7) can help promote the development of the energy-burning brown fat and energy expenditure, suggesting a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders. Nature 2008.
  • Demonstrated the humans have functional brown adipose tissue. NEJM 2009.
  • Discovered that diabetes can lead to alterations in brain cholesterol synthesis leading to altered neuronal synapse formation and altered feeding and metabolic behaviors. Cell Metab 2010.
  • Demonstrated a novel interaction between the insulin signaling pathway and the unfolded protein response through interaction of the transcription factor XBP-1 with the p85 subunit of PI 3-kinase. Nat Med 2010.
  • Discovered novel signaling mechanisms for glucose uptake regulation in skeletal muscle. Mol Cell Biol 2006; PNAS 2010; J Biol Chem 2011.

Page last updated: October 16, 2019