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Jason Kim, PhD

dr-jason-kim.jpgType 2 Diabetes Research

The goal of our research is to understand how obesity causes diabetes and to find its cure. Our NIH-funded program examines the role of inflammation and macrophages in obesity-mediated insulin resistance. As a National Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, we collaborate with leading academic investigators to define the molecular link between obesity and type 2 diabetes and further work with pharmaceutical industries to identify new therapeutic approaches to treat metabolic disease. 

Collaborative Type 2 Diabetes Research Identifies a Potential Oral Treatment

Role of inflammation in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular complications

Obesity is a major cause of type 2 diabetes, and together they impact more than 500 million people worldwide. Obesity is characterized by insulin resistance in which insulin’s ability to regulate glucose metabolism is impaired, and insulin resistance is an important early event in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Our current projects focus on the role of obesity-mediated inflammation in insulin resistance and are largely based on our earlier findings that macrophages and inflammatory cytokines regulate glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle and liver. Using novel genetic mouse models of altered macrophage function and cytokine signaling as well as experimental models of obesity (chronic feeding of high-fat diet, leptin deficiency), we investigate the underlying mechanism by which obesity-mediated inflammation causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Heart failures is a leading cause of mortality in diabetes, but the underlying mechanism by which diabetes increases cardiovascular events is presently unknown. Diabetic heart is characterized by altered metabolism and insulin resistance that may precede functional and pathological abnormalities. Based on our earlier findings that local inflammation develops in obese and diabetic heart, the goal of our NIH-funded research program is to understand the role of inflammation and macrophages in diabetic heart disease.

National Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center at UMass Medical School

The National Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center (MMPC) at UMass Medical School is a National Institutes of Health-sponsored resource (NIH Grant 5U2C-DK093000) that provides an array of sophisticated research tools to the global scientific community for the purpose of investigating mouse models of human diseases with particular focus on diabetes, obesity, and diabetic complications. The mission of the UMass MMPC is to advance medical and biological research by offering comprehensive, standardized, and high-quality experimental testing services to the academic and industry scientists. The UMass MMPC is composed of multidisciplinary group of investigators and leading scientists with state-of-the-art technologies at the UMass Medical School and consists of six complementary Phenotyping Cores. The collective goal of our research program is to find a cure for diabetes and improve human health.

Metabolism Core

The Metabolism Core performs elegant, physiological, and non-invasive metabolic experiments to assess insulin sensitivity hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp & GTT/ITT), glucose/lipid/protein metabolism using labeled metabolites, body composition using 1H-MRS, energy balance (food/water intake, energy expenditure, physical activity) at varying temperature and light/dark cycle using TSE Metabolic Cage System with Environmental Chamber, and exercise capacity using treadmill in mice. The Core also conducts comprehensive drug trial studies for PK/PD, efficacy, and toxicity analysis with academic and pharmaceutical institutions.

Humanized Mouse Cell Transplantation and Assessment Core

Humanized Mouse Cell Transplantation and Assessment Core offers unique “humanized” mice engrafted with functional human cells/tissues to conduct clinically relevant in vivo experiments of human cells, tissues, and immune system. The Core also provides expert and standardized techniques to assess in vivo function of transplanted human islets and stem cell-derived beta-cells in immunodeficient mice.

Analytical Core

The Analytical Core utilizes Luminex, Cobas Clinical Chemistry Analyzer, and molecular experiments to perform a high-throughput, multiplexed analysis of serum/tissue/urine levels of hormones, cytokines, chemokines, electrolytes, and metabolites, liver/kidney/thyroid function panels, and metabolic/inflammatory signaling pathways. Samples can be directly sent to the Core or obtained from mice by the Core.

Islet Core

The Islet Core conducts sophisticated in vivoex vivo, and in vitro analysis of insulin secretion, islet function/structure, and pancreatic function using hyperglycemic clamp, perifusion, and molecular experiments in mice. The Core also performs histological and morphological analysis with islet isolation. 

Cardiovascular Core

The Cardiovascular Core applies state-of-the-art high-frequency and high-resolution digital imaging platform with color Doppler mode (VisualSonics Vevo2100) to perform 2-D and M-mode echocardiography to non-invasively assess cardiac function and structure in mice. The Core also measures ECG/blood pressure and vascular/endothelial function, and conducts elegant micro-surgery procedures to generate mouse models of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases.

Microbiome Core

The Microbiome Core provides expert knowledge and metagenomics 16S rRNA NextGen sequencing tools for state-of-the-art analysis of gut microbiota to investigate their role in altered energy balance and metabolism in mice. The Core also offers Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) and antibiotic treatment procedures to facilitate alterations in gut microbiota population.