Research Projects

1. Environmental Toxins and Insulin Resistance - We live in a dirty world.  While the majority of research into the origins of insulin resistance/diabetes has focused on the foods we eat, we increasingly recognize the role the air we breathe may play. We recently published that cigarette smoke causes insulin resistance/diabetes, and we now have evidence that diesel exhaust disrupts metabolic function.

2. Brown Fat - All people have areas of fat tissue known as “brown fat”—these are pockets of fat that are enriched with mitochondria and are highly metabolically active. By stimulating brown fat with a specific drug, we have found that rodents are protected against diet-induced weight gain and diabetes. We are currently pursuing the relevance and feasibility of such a treatment in humans.  Positive results will yield a highly useful therapy.


3. Insulin Resistance and Heart Disease - Heart disease is the most lethal disease in the United States and is the leading cause of death among people with insulin resistance/diabetes.  We have recently found that too much insulin alone, such as that seen with insulin resistance/diabetes, disrupts mitochondrial function in heart cells and contributes to heart failure.  We are actively identifying interventions to protect the heart in such conditions.  


4. Type 3 Diabetes - Alzheimer disease is so intimately connected with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes that it is referred to as a type of diabetes itself.  We are exploring the role of insulin in directly increasing brain plaque formation and altering brain mitochondrial function.