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Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism

The Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism, directed by Rama Natarajan, Ph.D., is at the forefront of research on the complications of diabetes and was the first to study epigenetic changes in diabetic complications.
 
This department within the Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute uses state-of-the-art computational and systems biology data-analysis methods; genomic and epigenomic profiling approaches; novel transgenic mouse models; and translational approaches with small molecules, antibody and cell-based therapies in animal models and humans in its quest to advance the field of diabetes research.
 
Our Research Highlights
 
  • Battling Diabetic Complications: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and a significant risk factor for other complications such as atherosclerosis. Our researchers are working to determine molecular mechanisms and factors mediating these complications and to develop strategies to prevent and reverse these complications. The researchers'are current examining the molecular links between diabetes, obesity, metabolism, cancer and aging, including the role of various nuclear receptors.
  • Gene Therapy: Translational approaches using small molecules are being investigated by this department. Researchers are using potential gene therapy and RNA interference translational approaches to inhibit key genes associated with diabetic complications. They are also developing synthetic small molecules to target genes that promote obesity and related metabolic changes.
  • Immunity-Based Treatments: our researchers are performing important studies to develop novel methods to induce immune tolerance for the treatment of type 1 diabetes and also identify new cellular targets that can lead to cell-based therapies for diabetes. The results of these studies with immune cells can lead to more effective approaches in the treatment diabetes and to improved success of islet-cell transplantation.
  • Exercise-Insulin Sensitivity Connection: Our researchers have identified a molecular link between physical activity and insulin sensitivity. They are using animal models to characterize key mechanisms in exercise's effects on skeletal muscle's energy metabolism and growth.
Laboratory Research

Rama Natarajan, Ph.D.
National Business Products Industry Professor in Diabetes Research
Chair and professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism, Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute

David Ann, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism
 
Janice Huss, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism

Wendong Huang, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism

Andrei Rodin, Ph.D.
Associate professor,  Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism

Dustin Schones, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism

Jiing-Kuan Yee, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism

Defu Zeng, M.D.
Professor, Department of Diabetes Complications & Metabolism