Metabolism and Diabetes

Overview

Overview


Humans are built to hunger for fat, packing it on during times of feast and burning it during periods of famine. But deluged by foods rich in fat and sugar, the modern waistline often far exceeds the need to store energy for lean times. The result has been an epidemic of metabolic diseases. At Salk, we are deciphering the blueprint for metabolism, the complicated biological system that evolved to store and burn food for energy. These blueprints allow us to identify the molecular and genetic causes of obesity, diabetes and other metabolism-related disorders. We’re developing the next generation of obesity and diabetes therapies. We know that what’s needed now are powerful cures to fight a growing epidemic.

Research


Diabetes, Type 1

Individuals with type 1 diabetes cannot regulate their blood sugar levels because their pancreas does not produce enough insulin. There is no cure for this disease, which is diagnosed in about 40,000 people annually in the United States. It can be managed, but there are still risks for serious complications, including blindness, heart attack, kidney failure and stroke. At the Salk Institute, we are focusing on the islet cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin. We are looking for ways to protect them from damage or to coax them back to health. Our regenerative medicine research on stem cells is currently paving the way to grow new pancreatic tissues in the lab, healthy tissues that can benefit those people with type 1 diabetes. We’re doing the science today so that one day people won’t have to live with this disease.

Ronald Evans

Professor and Director

Gene Expression Laboratory

Marc Montminy

Professor

Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology

Alan Saghatelian

Professor

Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology

Reuben Shaw

Professor

Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

John B. Thomas

Professor

Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

Ye Zheng

Assistant Professor

Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis

Diabetes, Type 2

Type 2 diabetes affects about 27 million Americans and, as childhood obesity is becoming more prevalent, cases of the disease have been soaring. This disorder—where cells don’t use sugar-regulating insulin as well as they should—can cause a number of health problems and even death. At Salk we study the disease at the cellular and systematic levels to understand how cells become insulin-resistant and how that can lead to health complications.

Ronald Evans

Professor and Director

Gene Expression Laboratory

Vicki Lundblad

Professor

Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

Marc Montminy

Professor

Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology

Satchidananda Panda

Associate Professor

Regulatory Biology Laboratory

Alan Saghatelian

Professor

Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology

Reuben Shaw

Professor

Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory

John B. Thomas

Professor

Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

Ye Zheng

Assistant Professor

Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis

Obesity

With a more sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food choices, humans are increasingly obese, leading to an epidemic of diabetes, heart disease and other problems. Salk scientists strive to understand the fundamentals of metabolism and how our cells store and manage energy. We are working to develop therapies to treat obesity and its related risks.

Ronald Evans

Professor and Director

Gene Expression Laboratory

Satchidananda Panda

Associate Professor

Regulatory Biology Laboratory

John B. Thomas

Professor

Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory

Ye Zheng

Assistant Professor

Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis

Connect With Us