New Findings on Fat Cell Metabolism Could Lead to New Approaches for Treating Diabetes and Obesity

November 17, 2015

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego report new insights into what nutrients fat cells metabolize to make fatty acids. The findings pave the way for understanding potential irregularities in fat cell metabolism that occur in patients with diabetes and obesity and could lead to new treatments for these conditions. The researchers published their findings online in the Nov. 16 issue of Nature Chemical Biology…. Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Fatty Liver Disease and Scarring Have Strong Genetic Component

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say that hepatic fibrosis, which involves scarring of the liver that can result in dysfunction and, in severe cases, cirrhosis and cancer, may be as much a consequence of genetics as environmental factors.

The findings are published online in the journal Gastroenterology. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Leading Metabolics Researcher Joins UC San Diego School of Medicine

Alan Saltiel will head unified effort to create comprehensive diabetes center —

Alan R. Saltiel, PhD, whose studies of the hormone insulin have helped drive research of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders across the nation, is joining University of California, San Diego School of Medicine as professor and director of a new Comprehensive Diabetes Center.

Saltiel, who most recently served as director of the Life Sciences Institute at University of Michigan, will bring together and expand UC San Diego’s diverse programs to better understand and treat diabetes and other metabolic disorders. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Saltiel joins the Department of Medicine as professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Researchers Boost Body’s Inflammation-Reduction Mechanism to Combat Obesity-Fueled Disease

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and University College Dublin (UCD) have found that augmenting a naturally occurring molecule in the body can help protect against obesity-related diseases by reducing inflammation in the fat tissues. The study, published June 4 in the journal Cell Metabolism, focused on liver and kidney diseases, but the researchers believe it could lead to a new therapeutic approach for a variety of obesity-fueled conditions.

“This is a new way of reducing inflammation and protecting organs, using a compound that’s already produced by the body,” said co-senior author Kumar Sharma, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Essentially, we’re boosting the body’s natural response for reducing inflammation and showing the benefit in obesity-driven diseases.” … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Molecular Link between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Reveals Potential Therapy

Inflammatory molecule LTB4 promotes insulin resistance in obese mice and blocking the LTB4 receptor prevents and reverses type 2 diabetes in this model —

Obesity causes inflammation, which can in turn lead to type 2 diabetes. What isn’t well established is how inflammation causes diabetes — or what we can do to stop it. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that the inflammatory molecule LTB4 promotes insulin resistance, a first step in developing type 2 diabetes. What’s more, the team found that genetically removing the cell receptor that responds to LTB4, or blocking it with a drug, improves insulin sensitivity in obese mice. The study is published Feb. 23 by Nature Medicine. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Jerrold OlefskyStudy senior author Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and associate dean for scientific affairs for the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.

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New Division Chief and Vice Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Announced July 28, 2014, by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Nicholas Webster

Nicholas Webster, PhD

I am pleased to announce that an internal review committee has selected Dr. Nick Webster as the new chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Nai-Wen Chi has been selected to serve as vice chief.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Nick Webster, who accepted the role of interim division chief after I stepped down in 2010. In leading the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism for the past four years, Dr. Webster has done an important service for the division and the department.

Nick Webster, PhD, professor of medicine, is Associate Director for Shared Resources at the Moores Cancer Center and holds a joint appointment as a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He is a highly respected researcher and thought leader in the field of endocrinology and metabolism.

Dr. Webster earned his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.  After a post-doctoral fellowship at the CNRS in Strasbourg, France, he joined the UCSD faculty in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1989 and was promoted to Professor in 2006.

Dr. Webster has been very active in service to the University and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS).  He has held a number of leadership positions at UCSD, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Facilities in the Office of Research Affairs, where his portfolio included oversight of the animal welfare program and university-wide shared resources.  Dr. Webster has served as chair of a number of university committees, including the Radiation Safety and Surveillance Committee, the Animal Program Oversight Committee, the Recruitment and Admission Committee for the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, the Shared Resources Oversight Committee, and the Research Space Committees at the VASDHS.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Webster has maintained an active research program, which is broadly focused on the mechanisms of hormonal signal transduction and gene regulation in different developmental and disease contexts.  He actively participates in the Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine, the Diabetes Research Center, and the Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer.

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

The newly appointed vice chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Nai-Wen Chi, is a researcher and board-certified endocrinologist at the UCSD Medical Center and the VA. Dr. Chi earned his M.D. from National Taiwan University prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he was mentored by Dr. Richard Kolodner in investigating the molecular machinery that maintains the yeast mitochondrial genome.  Dr. Chi then completed his medical residency and endocrine fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  During his postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, he was mentored by Dr. Harvey Lodish in identifying novel insulin-signaling molecules that regulate vesicular trafficking.

Dr. Chi joined the UCSD faculty in 2000 and has been the director of the Endocrine Fellowship since 2005.  His clinical interest focuses on dysnatremias while his research program takes biochemical and genetic approaches to investigate the pathophysiology of diabetes and obesity.

Please join me in giving your enthusiastic support to Drs. Nick Webster and Nai-Wen Chi in their new positions of leadership in the Department of Medicine.

The Connection Between Oxygen and Diabetes

A lack of O2 in fat cells triggers inflammation and insulin resistance in obesity:

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have, for the first time, described the sequence of early cellular responses to a high-fat diet, one that can result in obesity-induced insulin resistance and diabetes. The findings, published in the June 5 issue of Cell, also suggest potential molecular targets for preventing or reversing the process.

Dr. Jerrold Olefsky“We’ve described the etiology of obesity-related diabetes. We’ve pinpointed the steps, the way the whole thing happens,” said Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD (left), associate dean for Scientific Affairs and Distinguished Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego. “The research is in mice, but the evidence suggests that the processes are comparable in humans and these findings are important to not just understanding how diabetes begins, but how better to treat and prevent it … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

UC San Diego-Human Longevity Inc. Agreement Seeks to Accelerate Medical Science

Thousands of patient genomes expected to fuel diverse medical research, beginning with cancer

The new collaborative research agreement between Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) and the University of California, San Diego, announced today, represents a significant and necessary step in efforts to research and translate the potential of the human genome into novel and real treatments and therapies able to change and improve the human condition.

“This agreement brings together the resources of two entities that, in combination, may ultimately help improve countless lives,” said David A. Brenner, MD, vice chancellor of health sciences at UC San Diego and dean of the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “HLI aims to bring leading-edge thinking in genomics technologies. UC San Diego boasts some of the world’s finest researchers and physicians working at places like the Moores Cancer Center. Together, we will collaborate to marshal the people, the tools and the resources to really make a difference in human health.” … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center

$5.6 Million Grant Renewal Expands Research in Kidney Failure

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) – part of the National Institutes of Health – has renewed a grant shared by the University of California, San Diego and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Schools of Medicine. The five-year, $5.64 million renewal will extend and expand research into acute kidney failure, or acute kidney injury, which kills 70 to 80 percent of patients in intensive care units who develop the disease.Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Ravindra MehtaRavindra L. Mehta, MD, FACP, UC San Diego professor of clinical medicine and vice chair for clinical research in the Department of Medicine, is associate director of the UC San Diego – University of Alabama at Birmingham O’Brien Center for Acute Kidney Injury Research.

He directs the O’Brien Center’s clinical studies core with co-director Daniel O’Connor, MD. O’Connor is professor of medicine and pharmacology and co-director, UCSD Center for Human Genetics and Genomics.

UC San Diego nephrology faculty members Roland Blantz, MD, and Volker Vallon, MD, are co-directors of the pre-clinical studies core of the O’Brien Center. Blantz is distinguished professor of medicine emeritus and former chief of the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension; Vallon is professor of medicine and pharmacology.

UC San Diego nephrologist Satish RamachandraRao, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, is a co-director of the Bioanalytical Resource Core.

Ravindra L. Mehta is Director of Dialysis Programs and Clinical Nephrology for UC San Diego Health System. In the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Mehta directs the Clinical Research Enhancement through Supplemental Training (CREST) and Master’s Degree in Clinical Research programs.

In 2011, Mehta received the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) Shire Bywaters Award for his lifetime achievements in acute kidney injury.

More Information:

Checkup Diabetes: the Latest Research and Treatments from UC San Diego

News Feature from the UC San Diego Health System Newsroom

Checkup Diabetes: the latest research and treatments at UC San Diego

by Scott LaFee

Diabetes is a monumental public health issue, not just because millions of Americans have been diagnosed with the metabolic disease, but also for the many more millions who either remain undiagnosed or have signs suggesting they will likely become diabetic. .. Read the full news feature from the UC San Diego Health System newsroom