The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Obesity and Diabetes

Nutrition facts
Research being done by Physiology graduate program faculty in the area of obesity and diabetes

About obesity and diabetes research


Over the past several decades, obesity has grown into a major global epidemic. In the United States, rates of obesity have doubled since 1970 to over 30%, with more than two-thirds of the adult population now overweight. Over 15% of children in the U.S. are obese. Obesity is linked with higher risks for several serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, and stroke. Presently, more than 24 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, a number that has doubled in the past decade and it is now estimated that one-third of the children born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Diabetes is the leading cause of complications such as retinopathy, nephrology, and peripheral nerve disease as well as amputations.

Is this option for me?


This option is for students who wish to study the causative factors of obesity and diabetes, as well as the effects of the conditions on the human body.

Potential specialization areas


  • Hypertension
  • CNS control of food intake
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Anabolic resistance of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle
  • Diabetic retinopathy and nephrology
  • Stroke
Orfeu M Buxton
Professor of Biobehavioral Health

Causes and consequences of sleep deficiency.
Margherita Cantorna
Distinguished Professor in Molecular Immunology
Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Vitamin A and vitamin D regulation of the microbiota and host immunity. Utilizing animal models of multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal infection.
Michael Green
Professor of Nutrition Science and Physiology

Vitamin A metabolism; vitamin A delivery to milk. Lipoprotein metabolism; lipid absorption. Tracer kinetics/mathematical modeling.
Kevin Harvatine
Associate Professor of Nutritional Physiology

Investigation of dietary factors that modify ruminal fatty acid biohydrogenation, regulation of synthesis of milk components, and basic regulation of lipid synthesis with the continual goal of developing feeding strategies to improve the efficiency and performance of dairy cows
Leonard Jefferson
Evan Pugh Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology

Laura Klein
Professor of Biobehavioral Health

Matam Vijay Kumar
Assistant Professor, Nutritional Science

Innate Immunity-Gut Microbiotal Interactions in Metabolic Diseases such as diabetes and obesity; Host Metabolic Adaptations to Inflammation; Lipocalin 2 - mediated Iron Homeostasis in Inflammation.
Joshua Lambert
Assistant Professor, Food Science

Dietary polyphenols in prevention of obesity and fatty liver disease; efficacy and mechanisms of action of food-derived phytochemicals in prevention of lung cancer; biotransformation, bioavailability and potential hepatotoxicity of dietary phytochemicals
Greg Shearer
Assoc. Professor, Nutritional Sciences

We seek to understand disease-related functional changes in the context of global changes in lipid mediators (bioactive metabolites of dietary fatty acids) and use them to identify markers of disease and better ways to prevent or manage disease
Regina Vasilatos-Younken
Dean of the Graduate School
Professor of Poultry Science, Endocrine Physiology, and Nutrition

Role of endocrine and metabolic factors in the regulation of muscle and adipose tissue growth.