Insulin Action

Understanding how insulin facilitates nutrient uptake in different tissues is important for developing appropriate treatment regimens for both types 1 and 2 diabetes. PDRC-research scientists are working to identify the mechanisms that affect insulin action and how this is altered in diabetic individuals.

Kim Lab

Dr. Jane Kim Biography

Dr. Kim's lab investigates how insulin acts at the cellular level in different tissues to alter glucose metabolism and other physiologic events in diabetes.

Presently Dr. Kim's research identifies key factors that contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes in obesity. Adipose tissue is the body's largest endocrine organ, representing a complex, essential and highly metabolic site of insulin action. Excess adiposity, or obesity, is associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia and hypertension. Dr. Kim's work has primarily focused on how transcription factors regulate adipose tissue metabolism. Her current research investigates epigenetic mechanisms that influence metabolism by studying how in changes in our diet alter gene transcription and our predisposition to insulin resistance. Discovering mechanisms that govern transcription factor function is expected to lead to novel treatments in treating diabetes.

Phillips Lab

Dr. Susan Phillips Biography

Dr. Phillips' current research focuses on subjects with type 2 diabetes and/or pre-diabetes and their disordered muscle and fat metabolism – specifically, the influence of fat hormones on the body's response to insulin. The study of one of these hormones, adiponectin, has been the focus of her most recent projects, which aim for a better understanding of the processes that direct reduced synthesis and activity of adiponectin in diabetic and obese people.

Adiponectin is a protein made by fat cells that can improve the response of liver and muscle tissue to insulin, reducing circulating levels of fat and decreasing the inflammation of blood vessels seen in obesity. In her studies, Dr. Phillips has observed that important changes occur in the release of hormones like adiponectin in obesity and during weight loss.

Dr. Phillips' publications have reported on the regulation of adiponectin within fat cells. Her reports on the different sub-unit forms of adiponectin and their regulated release in human fat cells have been presented at national meetings.

Shao Lab

Dr. Jianhua Shao Biography

Dr. Shao's main research focus is to explain the underlying process of insulin resistance during the development of obesity. His recent studies have shown that adiponectin, an important adipose-secreted, insulin-sensitizing hormone, directly modulates energy metabolism.

Dr. Shao has also identified mechanisms by which the production of adiponectin is stimulated. Their most recent studies have demonstrated that adiponectin plays an important role in fetal adipogenesis and fetal fat accumulation.

There are two ongoing research projects in Dr. Shao's lab: 1) investigating how maternal over-nutrient alters fetal energy metabolism and programs offspring obesity in their later life; 2) the regulatory effects of adiponectin on lipid metabolism and glucose metabolism and its role in maintaining energy homeostasis​