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Diabetes, Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders

Diabetes, Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders

Our Preclinical Diabetes and Obesity Expertise

  • Multiple rodent models of diabetes, including leptin-deficient ob/ob, db/db (leptin gene point mutation) and knockout mice models, as well as Zucker Diabetic Fatty and Streptozotocin-induced diabetic (STZ) rats
  • Multiple nonhuman primate models, including STZ-induced diabetic, Type 2 diabetic, insulin-dependent and diet-induced obesity models
  • Glycemic, lipid, inflammation and insulin sensitivity assessments
  • The Comparative Medicine Diet Laboratory, where researchers develop custom-made, semi-purified research diets for a variety of animal models.
  • Pathological assessments associated with disease states
  • The Lipid, Lipoprotein and Atherosclerosis Analysis Core Laboratory, where experts support preclinical studies through analytical and quantitative measurements of lipid and lipoprotein endpoints for non-diagnostic investigational purposes
  • Surgical assessments and procedures (tissue biopsies, port placements, etc.)
  • Platforms for testing multisystem effects of novel therapeutic agents
  • State-of-the-art imaging modalities, including MRI, CT, DXA and PET

Wake Forest Baptist offers access to nonhuman primate models of diabetes and obesity

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center houses renowned research programs in diabetes, obesity and related metabolic disorders. For more than 50 years, we have focused on building institutional expertise and experience in developing nonhuman primate and other animal models of chronic and degenerative diseases. Our faculty are recognized worldwide as thought leaders in these conditions.

Our research programs have led to important breakthroughs in today’s understanding of diabetes, obesity and related metabolic disorders. Preclinical studies in metabolism at Wake Forest Baptist have resulted in many research firsts, including:

  • Conducting the first preclinical study to validate that the inhibition of miR-33a/b increases HDL cholesterol and lowers plasma triglyceride levels
  • Demonstrating first, in any species, that dietary trans-fatty acid, in comparison to other dietary fats, increases belly fat, insulin sensitivity and fatty particles in the blood
  • Conducting the first systematic investigation of cardiometabolic syndrome and diabetic therapies in clinically relevant models of both naturally occurring and experimentally induced diabetes

Faculty at Wake Forest Baptist, as part of the Center for Diabetes Research, study the basic building blocks of diabetes and its contributing factors. Large population-based studies are conducted on how to protect people from heart disease and other complications on a national scale.

Faculty capitalize on the nonhuman primate preclinical models and comparative medicine resources available at Wake Forest Baptist. Our preclinical researchers combine more than 50 years of experience developing nonhuman primate models of chronic and degenerative diseases. We have more than two decades of experience in the development and application of preclinical Type 2 diabetes models and in the evaluation of therapeutic interventions, including those involving diet and exercise.

Selected Animal Models for Diabetes and Obesity

Rodent models of diabetes and obesity

  • ob/ob
  • db/db
  • Knockout mice models
  • Zucker Diabetic Fatty Rats
  • Streptozotocin-induced (STZ) diabetic rats

Nonhuman primate models of diabetes and obesity (based primarily on cynomolgus macaques and Caribbean-origin, African green monkeys)

  • Streptozotocin-induced (STZ) diabetic models
  • Type 2 diabetic models
  • Insulin-dependent obesity models
  • Diet-induced obesity models

Diabetes and Obesity-focused Faculty Investigators

Kylie Kavanagh, DVM, Assistant Professor of Pathology – Comparative Medicine with research interests in aging; alternative medicine; atherosclerosis and thrombosis; diabetes; therapeutic agents; metabolism; model development; nutrition; obesity; and vascular diseases

Susan Appt, DVM, researches the effects of diet and reproductive hormones on chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. She works with nonhuman primate animal models of menopause to study risk factors in women across the transition from premenopause to postmenopause and functions as the scientific director of the Diet Laboratory and associate director of Preclinical Translational Services.

Matt Jorgensen, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology – Comparative Medicine with research interests in therapeutic agents; growth & development; immunology, allergy and inflammation; infectious diseases; neurosciences; metabolism; model development; and nutrition

Mark Chappell, PhD, Professor of Hypertension with research interests in diabetes; hypertension; and women’s health issues

John Parks, PhD, Professor of Molecular Medicine with research interests in atherosclerosis; diabetes; therapeutic agents; hormones, cytokines and signaling; immunology; metabolism; nutrition; obesity; transgenics; and vascular diseases

Jasmina Varagic, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Hypertension with research interests in cardiac function; diabetes; hypertension; women’s health issues; and therapeutic agents

Yimin Shu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology – Reproductive Medicine

Explore Industry Research Collaboration at Wake Forest

We offer customized research teams of renowned scientists, veterinarians and clinicians, experienced technicians and an industry-supportive alliance management team.

We house multiple diabetes and obesity animal models, including nonhuman primates, at our Clarkson Campus.

We have the institutional expertise and resources to design customized diabetes and obesity preclinical studies and develop animal model cohorts with natural or induced diabetes or obesity.

Industry-sponsored and contract preclinical research studies conducted here utilize the latest in basic science and imaging technologies available from Wake Forest Baptist’s core labs and imaging facilities.