Nicola Abate, M.D.
Professor and Chief, Division of Endocrinology
Nicola Abate, M.D.
Professor and Chief
Charles Sprague, M.D. Distinguished Professor in Internal Medicine
Division of Endocrinology
Department of Internal Medicine
University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77555-1060
My research program focuses on studying metabolic and genetic determinants of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the common denominator for the clustering of metabolic abnormalities we identify in the "Metabolic Syndrome" and increases risk for both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two major causes of morbidity and mortality for our population.
Obesity and fat distribution are major determinants of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. However, our studies have helped recognizing that a large portion of variability in insulin resistance in the population is not explained on the basis of obesity and fat distribution. I was the first to quantify the independent effect of subcutaneous abdominal, intra-peritoneal and retro-peritoneal adipose tissue mass in predicting variability in insulin resistance independently of overall adiposity. Our work stimulated much debate in the field and emphasized the importance of regional adiposity in metabolic complications of obesity. I established the precision of MRI of the entire abdomen as a method to estimate adipose tissue mass in various visceral compartments in humans. My lab also played a major role in identifying ethnic differences in fat distribution for a given BMI or body fat content and the relationships between regional adiposity and glucose/lipid metabolism in different ethnic groups.
More recently, I have focused on the role of adipose tissue dysfunction in metabolic complications of obesity. I am currently examining the role of ENPP1 in adipose tissue function and in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance in humans. We have also utilized adipocyte culture and created a novel transgenic mouse model to examine the mechanistic role of ENPP1 in adipose tissue dysfunction and pathogenesis of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. This novel mechanism of insulin resistance could help explaining obesity-independent variability in insulin resistance and identify novel targets of therapy to improve insulin action.
I am currently leading a multidisciplinary team (MTT) with focus on obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This project is part of our Clinical Translational Sciences Award at UTMB and has developed into an effective collaboration between basic scientists and clinical investigators in the field of this application. Team building in translational research in the area of obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is a focus of our Institution and of the MTT I lead. As Director of the Endocrinology Division at UTMB, I am leading our clinical and research program with a special focus on obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Ultimately, the goal of my research and clinical program is to develop effective strategies to prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.