Diabetes and Obesity
The American population is experiencing an explosion in Type II diabetes, largely in response to the epidemic of obesity. This national trend of increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes is especially magnified in Arkansas, which has consistently been ranked as among the most “unhealthy states” in the country. The cost of caring for diabetes and obesity is enormous due to the numerous complications, including heart disease, renal disease, blindness, amputations, etc. Obesity and diabetes are particularly prevalent in minority populations which have traditionally not enjoyed good access to medical care. Finally, the increasing prevalence of obesity in children has now lead to the frequent diagnosis of impaired glucose tolerance and type II diabetes in this population, an entity that was essentially non-existent 20 years ago.
Dr. Debra Simmons conducts investigator initiated studies into nutrition and lipid metabolism. In addition, Dr. Simmons is a Site Director for the ACCORD study, which is an NIH funded study aimed at testing the effects of intensive control of blood sugars, blood pressure and lipid metabolism on heart attacks and strokes in patients with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Simmons is also a Site Director for the AIM-HIGH study, which is an NIH funded study aimed at testing the effects of control of triglycerides and HDL cholesterol in addition to LDL cholesterol on recurrent heart attacks and strokes in patients with the metabolic syndrome. Dr. Fred Faas is actively involved in investigator-initiated research into lipid metabolism and lipid uptake into tissues, and conducts clinical trials related to new drugs related to lipid metabolism, diabetes, and hypertension. Dr. Vitaly Kantorovich is searching the relationship between obesity and diabetes and in particular the effects of weight loss on the amelioration of glucose homeostasis and insulin resistance. Dr. Gouri Ranganathan examines the regulation of lipoprotein lipase, a key protein that controls fat cell lipid accumulation and which controls blood triglyceride levels. These studies help in understanding the molecular mechanism of lipoprotein lipase regulation in diabetes.