Basic Laboratory Research

CPROM researchers – both clinicians and medical scientists – collaborate on investigations to provide a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between metabolism and obesity, ultimately supporting our pursuit of the most effective patient programs and therapies. Some of our laboratory investigations are listed here, and you can also learn more about our patient-oriented research studies.

Current Areas of Focus

Adipocytes-derived Hormones and Cardiovascular Function
Principal Investigator: Thiago Bruder do Nascimento, PhD
Based on earlier findings that the endothelial leptin receptor is essential for vascular health, this research explores which mechanisms within adipose tissue contribute to cardiovascular health and disease.

FOXO1 in Beta-Cell Compensation
Principal Investigator: H. Henry Dong, PhD
This National Institutes of Health sponsored project is to characterize genetic factors that are responsible for coupling beta-cell compensation with nutrient signals to understand the underlying mechanism of beta-cell failure in diabetes.

Reprograming of Pancreatic Alpha-Cells Into Functioning Insulin-Producing Cells as a Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes
Principal Investigator: Mohamed Saleh, MD, Senior Pediatric Endocrine Fellow
Mentor: George Gittes, MD, Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

This project proposes to infuse adeno-associated virus carrying Pdx1 and MafA expression cassettes through the pancreatic duct and convert α-cells into insulin-producing cells in the animal model. Besides potentially restoring insulin secretion capacity, researchers believe that by specifically targeting α-cells, this strategy might correct the hyperglucagonemia and ameliorate hyperglycemia.

Nitrite Modulation of Hypertension, Platelet Activation, Endothelial and Mitochondrial Function
Principal Investigator: Kara Hughan, MD
Mentor: Mark Gladwin, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

This program aims to examine the effects of chronic oral nitrite therapy on blood pressure, endothelial function and insulin sensitivity and whether it modulates mitochondrial energetics, oxidative stress and redox signaling in platelets and skeletal muscle.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation EnVision Program
Principal Investigator: Kara Hughan, MD
This program studies the relationship of glucose abnormalities and liver stiffness in patients with cystic fibrosis. Investigators will observe correlations between liver stiffness using transient elastography and glucose abnormalities using oral glucose tolerance tests in individuals ages 6 to 25 with cystic fibrosis.

University of Pittsburgh and Bayer HealthCare LLC Master Collaboration Agreement – Electronic Approach to PCOS Phenotyping
Principal Investigator: Kara Hughan, MD
This study aims to define an electronic health record (EHR) phenotype that can be queried in female patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who are being seen in UPMC facilities. A subset will be manually validated according to one or more of the three diagnostic criteria for PCOS.