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Impact - Diabetes and Metabolism

Foundational research unlocking new knowledge surrounding diabetes and metabolism

Stowers Investigator Nicolas Rohner, Ph.D., studies the Mexican cavefish – descendants of river fish swept into dark underground caves by floods hundreds of thousands of years ago. Rohner uses cavefish as an ideal model system in which to study adaptation and resilience. Due to the complete darkness in caves, cavefish rely entirely on outside food sources, brought in by seasonal flooding during the rainy season. As such, cavefish have evolved a feasting and fasting cycle, allowing them to store impressive amounts of body fat and starve for months with ease.

Understanding metabolism and how our body converts food into energy can help us understand obesity and diseases like diabetes. Our researchers study metabolism in novel research organisms like cavefish as a powerful way to understand the genes and mechanisms underlying metabolic processes in health and disease.

We have shown that cavefish, for example, exhibit characteristics like high body fat and blood sugar levels associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome in humans, but do not experience adverse health effects. We seek to understand why and how that knowledge can help humans.

5 questions about diabetes

Foundational biological research conducted by scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research is furthering our understanding of metabolism and metabolic diseases including diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes has risen dramatically over the past several decades, affecting 10% of the global population. The World Health Organization attributes diabetes as a major factor causing blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and lower limb amputation. Learn more about this disease and how research from the Stowers Institute could one day help provide better avenues for treatment and potentially prevention.

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Unraveling 5 mysteries of metabolism

Microscopic image of metabolism chromosomes

Stowers scientists are uncovering many mysteries underlying metabolism. In simple terms, metabolism is the sum of the chemical reactions that occur within and between every single cell in our body, governing how energy and cell products are created and consumed to perform necessary tasks. The Stowers Institute for Medical Research is at the forefront of uncovering metabolic mysteries. Here we ask five questions to unravel metabolism and its complexities.

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Other labs studying diabetes and metabolism

A key research focus of the lab of Stowers Investigator Jerry Workman, Ph.D., is how gene activity is impacted by the breakdown products of metabolism. This research may inform our understanding of normal metabolic processes as well as metabolic diseases like diabetes.

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Learn more about our impact on other research areas


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