Research & Facilities
Researchers in the UC Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism are recognized for excellence in the fields of endocrine autoimmunity, metabolic bone disease and diabetes.
Fellows in the division are trained in various aspects of molecular endocrinology, endocrine oncology, autoimmunity, clinical diabetes and obesity research and metabolic bone disease.
The major areas of interest are:
Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes
The division is participating as a clinical site in the National Institutes of Health-funded multicenter Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes (PCDD/ACCORD) Trial.
Biologic and Clinical Role of Discordances in Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
Although HbA1c is the gold standard for measurement of glycemic control in diabetes, it is common to see discrepancies between it and other measures of glycemic control. Studies are in progress to address the mechanism(s) underlying these discrepancies and their possible role in the development of complications of diabetes.
Regulation of Glucose Metabolism and Food Intake by Incretins
Regulatory peptides secreted from the GI tract have an important role in the stimulation of insulin secretion by ingested nutrients, as well as actions to induce satiety. Studies using GLP-1, one of the primary intestinal insulin secretagogues, are in progress examining the secretion, metabolism, and action of GLP-1 in healthy diabetic humans. Additional research is focused on the regulation of food intake by GI hormones.
This project is tied to a larger study of the mechanisms by which high-fat diets induce obesity. Experiments are conducted in rats on several well-controlled diets to determine the interaction of dietary composition and the secretion of and responsiveness to gut satiety peptides. In contrast to GLP-1 the stomach hormone ghrelin stimulates eating and inhibits insulin secretion. Research in the division is focused on the role of ghrelin in glucose regulation and pathologic states like diabetes and glucose intolerance.
Effects of Hyperglycemia on Mortality and Morbidity in Hospitalized Patients
Hyperglycemia is recognized as a risk factor in patients with critical illness. Studies to understand the underlying basis for this association are in progress using databases of hospitalized patients and direct study of metabolic function in patients after critical illness.
Regulation of Insulin Secretion and Glucose Control Following Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass, is increasingly common and is the most effective means of weight loss for obese persons. Gastric bypass is also effective at reversing diabetes associated with obesity. Studies in the division seek to understand the mechanism by which endocrine and hormonal factors are changed by gastric bypass to benefit surgically treated patients. This research involves both preclinical investigation using rodent models and studies of humans before and after bariatric surgery.
Physiology and Clinical Utility of Islet Auto-Transplantation
Pancreatectomy is frequently necessary and effective in treating patients with pancreatic diseases but causes severe diabetes. Removal of islets from the surgical specimen and return to patients in the form of autologous transplants is feasible. This procedure has been performed on 70 patients at the University of Cincinnati in the past six years. Studies are ongoing to understand the physiology of islet function after auto-transplantation and to track the outcomes of these patients.
Regulation of Food Intake and Body Weight
The biology of body weight regulation and obesity is a highly developed area of great clinical importance. Ongoing research at the Cincinnati Diabetes and Obesity Center is focused on understanding the fundamental neural connections and cellular signaling pathways involved in the control of energy balance. Emphasis is on the role of circulating hormones and regulatory factors and their interaction with the CNS.
Regulation of Metabolism by the Central Nervous System (CNS)
Over the last decade it has become apparent that the brain does not just consume nutrients, but plays a role in their regulation. Research at the Cincinnati Diabetes and Obesity Center has uncovered a broad range of metabolic steps controlled by brain centers including glucose production by the liver, cholesterol and lipid metabolism and the function of fat cells. These findings have been central to shaping a new conception of metabolic control that is based on coordination by higher centers in the CNS.
The UC Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism occupies space in the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, and the Metabolic Diseases Institute on the Reading campus.
This includes laboratory facilities equipped to perform state-of-the art experiments in molecular and cellular biology, as well as facilities for the development of transgenic mouse models, tissue culture, data analysis and high performance liquid chromatography.
Maintenance facilities and operating rooms for large and small animals are supervised by the UC Department of Laboratory Animal Medicine.
Facilities for clinical research are available at the NIH-funded Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training centers located at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.