The Division of Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases is actively involved in clinical and basic research pertaining to the disorders of human nutrition and metabolism, such as obesity, other body fat disorders, diabetes, and hyperlipidemias. The faculty in the Division are also involved in the training and teaching of students and postdoctoral fellows. Faculty provide consultation to patients with lipid disorders, diabetes, and adipose tissue disorders. On this site, you can learn about the Division and faculty, the fellowship program, and about the research programs in the Division.
Research studies pertain to inherited and acquired lipodystrophies, obesity, body composition, insulin resistance, management of diabetes mellitus, and hyperlipidemia.
We are investigating phenotypic characteristics, metabolic abnormalities, and underlying basis of various types of lipodystrophies and other disorders of adipose tissues, such as Multiple Symmetric Lipomatosis. Mutations of the AGPAT2 and BSCL2 genes in patients with congenital generalized lipodystrophy have been reported recently by our investigators. In addition, we have reported mutations in the Lamin A/C gene in familial partial lipodystrophy (Dunnigan variety) and in the PPAR-ÿ in a patient with familial partial lipodystrophy. We have also reported remarkable success in the treatment of lipodystrophies using recombinant leptin therapy.
Our group has been studying pathophysiology and management of lipodystrophy in HIV-infected patients. We are investigating the effect of fish oil supplements, sitostanol, and dietary intervention to treat hyperlipidemia in HIV patients on protease inhibitor combination therapy.
Our recent studies highlight the importance of dietary fiber in the management of diabetes mellitus. We have also contributed significantly to the understanding of the drug treatment of diabetic dyslipidemia. Several studies have evaluated the efficacy and safety of nicotinic acid, lovastatin, gemfibrozil, and cholestyramine in treating lipid disorders in patients with diabetes.
We are also studying the effects of plant stanols (derivatives of sitosterol) in hypercholesterolemic patients. The role of dietary adjuncts, such as functional foods and nutraceuticals, in the management of moderate hypercholesterolemia and in their potential utility in augmenting the cholesterol-lowering effect of diet in patients already on statin therapy are being actively pursued.
We provide clinical and research training to:
- Medical students and dietetic students
- Doris Duke clinical research fellows
- Postdoctoral research fellows
- Endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes fellows
- Nutrition and metabolic diseases fellows
We are managing patients with obesity, lipoprotein disorders, diabetes mellitus, and body fat disorders such as lipodystrophies. Our faculty and clinical fellows provide consultation and services at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Diabetes and Lipid clinics. The patients with adipose tissue disorders are evaluated at the Clinical and Translational Research Center.
We are investigating the molecular mechanisms of lipodystrophies for both the genetic and acquired varieties. Opportunities are available to study the mechanisms by which recently identified gene defects cause lipodystrophies. These include creating knock-out and transgenic mice models, modification at the cellular levels and the biochemistry behind such defects. Because of the genetic heterogeneity of the lipodystrophies, identification of additional genes will become necessary using positional cloning approaches.
The lab is well equipped to carry out such experiments. This includes ABI-377 and ABI-7700, cell culture equipment and imaging systems. In addition, we utilize UT Southwestern's several core laboratories, which include DNA sequencing, molecular imaging, transgenic as well as microarray facilities.