UK Hosts 5th Annual Barnstable Brown Research Day

The University of Kentucky’s fifth annual Barnstable Brown Obesity and Diabetes Research Day was held on May 20 at the Albert B. Chandler Hospital Pavilion A.

Since 2011, the event has focused on current findings in obesity and diabetes research and features presentations by nationally prominent physician-scientists as well as the work of regional researchers and UK students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty chosen from abstract submissions.

President Eli Capilouto opened the day with remarks about the importance of diabetes research at UK, given the prevalence of the disease in the region and the fact that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

Dr. Philip Kern, director of the UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS), introduced Dr. John Fowlkes who succeeds Kern as director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center. 

“Inspiration for this annual symposium, which is now in its 5th year, grew out of desire to focus on diabetes and obesity-related work performed by complementary research centers and departments within UK’s College of Medicine,” said Fowlkes, the center’s new director. “The event is dedicated to highlighting the most up-to-date regional research, and is complemented by guest speakers who provide cutting edge presentations about the relationship between obesity and diabetes.”

Invited speakers for the 2015 Research Day were Dr. Sudha Biddinger of Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Dr. Steven Kahn, director of the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Washington, Seattle; and Dr. Elif Oral, associate professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Biddinger’s work concentrates on signaling pathways and mechanisms underlying the development of dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis and fatty liver disease in the insulin resistant states of obesity and diabetes.  Dr. Khan has an extensive basic research program examining the role of islet amyloid in the loss of ß-cells in type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Oral’s clinical interests are in insulin resistance, obesity, lipid disorders, and diabetes with a focus on the importance of adipocytes in human metabolism and adipocyte hormones such as leptin.

The program included a panel discussion on the topic of diabetes and obesity in the community at large with emphasis on resources for research at UK. Panelists were Dr. Kenneth S. Campbell, associate professor and director of the Biospecimens Core, CCTS Biobank; Dr. Jeffery Talbert, professor and director of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, Informatics; Dr. Fran Feltner, director of the Center of Excellence in Rural Health, the Kentucky Homeplace; and Dr. Cherry Kay Smith, assistant director of the Family and Consumer Sciences Field Programs, Cooperative Extension.

The afternoon poster session provided an opportunity for investigators to present their research on mechanisms linking the epidemic of diabetes to obesity and the high incidence of cardiovascular disease.

At the awards ceremony following the symposium, Kern was awarded the 2015 Frederick and Maria Celia de Beer Award for his accomplishments in research involving obesity, diabetes and excellence in education and teaching in this area.

The following also received awards for outstanding scientific research presented in their posters:

First place fellow category: Joseph Layne, Saha Cardiovascular Research Center: “Effects of miR-33 antagonism on glucose and triglyceride metabolism in nonhuman primates”

Second place fellow category: Yipeng Sui, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences: “Intestinal pregnane X receptor links xenobiotic exposure and hypercholesterolemia”

First place student category: Robert Helsley, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences: “Heather Normanignaling in adipose progenitor cells promotes obesity and metabolic disorders”

Second place student category: Yasir Al Siraj, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences: “An XX sex chromosome complement markedly promotes diet-induced adiposity but protects against hypertension in angiotensin II-infused hypercholesterol”

Third place student category: Heather Norman, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences: “CD47 plays a novel role in regulating adipocyte lipolysis”

Fourth place student category: Jianing Li, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences: “CETP alters routes of total and HDL cholesterol elimination from the body in mice”

First place staff category: Latha Muniappan, Saha Cardiovascular Research Center: “Calpain inhibition attenuates adipose tissue inflammation and fibrosis in diet-induced obese mice”

Second place staff category: Ailing Ji, Saha Cardiovascular Research Center: “CETP alters routes of total and HDL cholesterol elimination from the body in mice”

Third place staff category: Nika Larian, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences: “Deficiency of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in adipocytes augments the development of diet-induced obesity”

Photos of the Fifth Annual Barnstable Brown Obesity and Diabetes Research Day can be viewed here.

The Barnstable Brown Obesity and Diabetes Research Day is sponsored by the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity CenterCenter of Research in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease(P20 GM103527) and the NIH training grant on oxidative stress.