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Pfeffer, Suzanne, PhD

Stanford University, Stanford, California

Project Title:

Rab Gtpase Control Of Glut4 Trafficking In Adipocytes

Grant Number:

7-12-MN-67

Type of Grant:

Mentor-Based Postdoctoral Fellowship

General Research Subject:

Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Project Start Date:

Jul 1, 2012

Project End Date:

Jun 30, 2016

Focus:

Insulin Action, Insulin Action\Glucose Transport, Islet Biology, Islet Biology\Hormone Secretion and Exocytosis

Research Description



The proteins, fats and sugars we eat are converted into the building blocks that generate our tissues, and provide energy for proper organ function. Humans store energy primarily in the form of fat and use a sugar called glucose as an important energy currency. When food is abundant, blood glucose levels increase and liver, muscle and fat cells take up glucose for energy storage. After a meal, the pancreas secretes the hormone, insulin, which signals cells to remove glucose from the blood. In diabetes, patients either fail to produce insulin and/or they fail to be able to respond to insulin, resulting in increased blood glucose levels. Elevated blood glucose is detrimental to wound healing and can damage many organs including nerves, kidneys, and eyes. It can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The research proposed here seeks to study in precise molecular detail, how a protein named GLUT4 is transported to the surface of cells to enable them to remove glucose from the blood in response to insulin signaling.

Research Profile



What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
The proteins, fats and sugars we eat are converted into the building blocks that generate our tissues, and provide energy for proper organ function. Humans store energy primarily in the form of fat and use a sugar called glucose as an important energy currency. When food is abundant, blood glucose levels increase and liver, muscle and fat cells take up glucose for energy storage. After a meal, the pancreas secretes the hormone, insulin, which signals cells to remove glucose from the blood. In diabetes, patients either fail to produce insulin and/or they fail to be able to respond to insulin, resulting in increased blood glucose levels. Elevated blood glucose is detrimental to wound healing and can damage many organs including nerves, kidneys, and eyes. It can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. This research seeks to study in precise molecular detail, how a protein named GLUT4 is transported to the surface of cells to enable them to remove glucose from the blood in response to insulin signaling. By understanding this process in detail, we hope to discover new ways to improve this process to help lower their blood sugar levels for diabetic individuals.

If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
By better understanding how cells remove glucose from the bloodstream we hope to discover new ways to regulate blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.

Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
Like more than 25 million Americans, my sister has Type I diabetes and my father and uncle both have Type II. Thus, I have a very personal stake in contributing to this important field. This award will focus our basic research efforts on a process that is critical for normal blood sugar regulation.

In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
The tools available to basic scientists today are more powerful than ever and will make it possible for us to learn the precise underpinnings of diabetes. Hopefully we can learn important new clues to make it possible to reverse Type II diabetes and make a difference in Type I diabetes care.