University or Institution

University of Florida

Area of Research:

Pathophysiology of feline diabetes with a focus on beta cell function and the interaction between the gut and the pancreas.

Primary Mentor:

Chen Gilor, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. Associate Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida [email protected]

Mentoring Team:

Mark Atkinson, PhD Professor, Department of Pathology; American Diabetes Association Eminent Scholar for Diabetes Research; Director for the Diabetes Institute; University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Clayton Mathews, PhD Sebastian Family Professor for Diabetes Research; Director, Immunology/Microbiology Graduate Program, College of Medicine, Professor, Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine; Professor, Department of Pediatrics; Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Christopher Adin, DVM, DACVS Chair and Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Allison O’Kell, DVM, MS, DACVIM Assistant Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Description of Potential Research Project:

We assembled a team that includes experienced veterinary clinician- scientists with pioneers and leaders in the field of human diabetes mellitus (DM) pathophysiology and disease markers.

There are three pillars to type 2 DM: decreased beta cell mass, beta cell dysfunction, and insulin resistance. In the studies proposed here, we will utilize drugs and surgical techniques to separately target these 3 pillars and induce DM in overweight cats with the following Primary Aims:

  1. To develop and characterize a type 2 feline DM model
  2. To discover markers of prediabetes and pre-clinical DM in cats (including metabolomics, metagenomics, and others).

This study will eventually enable early detection and treatment of an insulin-independent state of feline DM with the goal of preventing progression to an insulin-dependent state.

Secondary aims:

  1. To correlate beta cell secretory capacity with beta cell mass by using the maximal Acute Insulin Response to arginine (AIRmax) in non-diabetic cats, cats after partial pancreatectomy and diabetic cats (The fellow will be trained on performing hyperglycemic clamps).
  2. To isolate and culture feline islets of Langerhans
  3. To identify the mechanisms whereby beta cell mass is reduced and functionally inhibited during the preclinical phase of T2D, and determine a means of rescuing beta cell mass and function through targeted delivery of agents to beta cells such as Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and others.
  4. To study changes in gut microbiota during progression from obse- nondiabetic through prediabetes and diabetes stages

Additional Training Opportunities:

The Fellow will be expected to attend monthly seminars at the Diabetes institute, monthly Grand Rounds of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism and the nPOD annual meeting. Other conferences relevant to the specific research project will be suggested to the trainee as possibilities to attend and present research during the training period. The trainee is expected to attend at least one per year to present research, network with leaders in their field, and enable development of a national reputation. Often, these meetings provide excellent career development and grant writing workshops. At UF, the trainee will be encouraged to attend and participate in the Mentoring Academy as well as the UF Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

K-College Career Development Series which provide training in grant preparation, publication submission, lab management, and development of leadership qualities. Additionally, the UF Office of Postdoctoral Affairs provides a variety of programs and resources to postdocs to support their professional development throughout the duration of their training period. Examples include: a university-wide postdoctoral seminar series to encourage cross- interdisciplinary networking and collaborations and provide public speaking feedback to trainees, a postdoctoral editors association, a variety of career panel discussions, interview preparation workshops, building scientific communication strategies, etc.. The mentoring team will work together to identify any other relevant workshop learning opportunities and connect the trainee to other faculty with common research goals to facilitate the continued growth of the trainee’s network and further establish areas of expertise.

Contact Information for Interested Potential Trainees:

Chen Gilor, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. Associate Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida [email protected]