Diabetes currently affects some 21 million people in the United States, and its incident rate is on the rise. Understanding the mechanisms of obesity, insulin resistance, tissue damage, and islet cell dysfunction in diabetes is the main goal of the Diabetes Research Center. Integrating novel imaging technologies and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) with high-throughput gene array capabilities, the laboratory is conducting groundbreaking research into the human genetics of diabetes, the creation of new pre-clinical models for diabetes and other metabolic disorders, and the protective role of specific proteins in diabetes complications.
The thyroid, a vital endocrine gland, secretes hormones that regulate metabolic rate, heart function, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, among many other functions in the body. Understanding the gland and its hormones at the molecular level, and the signaling pathways associated with them, are necessary to develop effective, targeted therapies for metabolic disorders such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hyperthyroidism. One of the goals of the Diabetes Research Center is to develop selective analogs that specifically elicit beneficial effects on metabolic parameters and body weight, in the absence of effects on heart rate. These compounds should represent novel treatments for obesity, and have the potential to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.