Beta cell function, obesity and type 2 diabetes
Pancreatic beta cells are responsible for secreting adequate amounts of insulin into the blood stream to control glucose levels. Beta cells have a remarkable capacity to adapt to metabolic challenges, such as obesity, and to increase their secretory output accordingly. However, failure of beta cells to match secretory output with demand results in hyperglycaemia, type 2 diabetes and associated morbidities. The global population is currently facing an obesity and diabetes epidemic, making research into this area an economic, medical and ethical priority.
My group investigates the molecular and metabolic mechanisms that underlie normal beta cell function. Of particular interest are how these mechanisms coordinate the beta cell response with whole body metabolic status, how they adapt during obesity, and how they fail during type 2 diabetes. We are currently focussed on several key pathways involved in oxygen sensing, lipid signalling and glucose metabolism. We also have current projects investigating the beta cell response to circulating fat-derived hormones and other factors.