Research Projects

Under Dr. Nair's leadership, our lab has four main research projects related to type 2 diabetes and aging. Our goal is to advance understanding about the metabolic basis for diabetes, especially the underlying causes of type 2 diabetes in populations with genetic predisposition to the disease as they age, in order to help advance the development of better treatment options.

Branched amino acids and muscle functions

In this research project, we're investigating the specific role of branched chain amino acids as regulators of muscle protein expression and mitochondrial function in young and elderly people.

In vivo regulation of protein turnover by hormones

Our research in this area addresses whether insulin resistance or insulin deficiency causes mitochondrial dysfunction in diabetes or whether mitochondrial dysfunction causes insulin resistance. We approach these questions by performing human studies involving multiple interventions and measurements of DNA damage, gene expression, fractional synthesis rates of specific proteins (translational rate) and functional measurements, including muscle mitochondrial ATP production and endurance capacity.

Mechanism of muscle wasting in aging

Research in this area addresses the question whether muscle weakness, wasting and reduced endurance resulting in metabolic syndrome occur as people become older because of reduced capacity to synthesize and degrade proteins and mitochondrial dysfunction. We use multiple approaches to address these questions, including gene array and proteomic technologies. Measurements of expression of specific muscle proteins in human aging and their functional importance assessment in animal model are important parts of this program.

Plasma proteins as markers of insulin deficiency and diabetic complications

In this research project, we're investigating whether we can identify specific plasma proteins or their altered synthesis rate as a marker of diabetes-related complications.