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Research Areas

Diabetes/Weight Regulation

Within the scope of evolutionary history, the maintenance of a healthy body weight, generally defined as the adequate relationship between the intake and expenditure of energy, represents a significant determinant for the survival of higher level organisms.  Generally speaking, the stability of a healthy body weight is a direct consequence of those autonomic pathways responsible for maintaining a relatively constant reservoir of energy while at the same time supplying the body with its energy and nutrition requirements.  Given the significance of normal energy consumption, conversion and dispersal, numerous pathways have evolved for the regulation of these processes, and instances of abnormal or dysfunctional weight regulation have been implicated as provoking, or being provoked by, a multitude of disorders and diseases.  Obesity, which is universally considered to be one of the leading causes of preventable death, is defined as the excessive accumulation of adipose tissue that adversely impacts the general health of an individual, and can drastically increase the affected individual’s risk of developing a slew of related health issues, such as cardiovascular disorders, type-2 diabetes, liver disease, osteoarthritis and thrombosis.  The onset of insulin resistance in overweight individuals and the susceptibility of weight gain associated with insulin resistance, have implicated obesity as both a cause and symptom for the development of type-2 diabetes, the metabolic syndrome in which an affected individual develops an inability to sufficiently produce or respond to insulin.  Although generally considered to be the direct consequence of a sustained combination of excessive caloric consumption and a noted lack of physical activity, the underlying causes of obesity, whether of a genetic, physiological, psychological, or social nature, are extremely complex and have yet to be fully explained.

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