Laboratory of Professor Anath Shalev, MD

Performing cutting-edge basic science and clinical investigations with all division scientists—laboratory technicians and undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral scientists.

Basic Science Research

The basic science research programs of the Division are located on the 7th and 8th floors of the Boshell Diabetes Research and Education Building and on the 12th floor of the Shelby Research Building.

Stuart Frank Laboratory

The focus of research in Dr. Frank’s laboratory is understanding mechanisms of action of growth hormone (GH), an important metabolic and growth promoting hormone, and prolactin (PRL), a hormone critical in lactation and reproduction. In particular, his interests are in various aspects of GH receptor (GHR) and prolactin receptor (PRLR) structure and signal transduction. His studies have examined the interaction of the GHR and PRLR with their signaling pathway molecules and the the cellular determinants of sensitivity to GH and PRL and modulation of GHR and PRLR availability and function. Current efforts include: 1) molecular studies of mechanisms of GH-induced activation of the JAK2 tyrosine kinase and the role of JAK2 in GHR stability and trafficking; 2) studies of mechanisms of generation of GH binding protein (GHBP), the shed extracellular domain of the GHR found in the circulation of humans, rabbits, and rodents that may modulate GH signaling; 3) studies of the influence of GHR-PRLR interactions on each receptor’s availability and function; 4) studies of the role of GHR interaction with the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor and how this physical interaction functionally affects GH action; 5) the development of antagonist monoclonal antibodies to the GHR and PRLR and their utility in certain cancers; and 6) circadian sensitivity of the heart to GH and implications for heart failure. Multiple techniques including molecular and cell biological and protein chemistry approaches, mouse models, and physiology approaches are being employed to achieve these goals.

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Anath Shalev Laboratory

Dr. Shalev is the Director of the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center. She heads a research program to understand mechanisms of dysfunction of pancreatic islet beta-cells, the cell type that produces insulin. Her research is focused on understanding the role of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) and other proteins in the survival of beta cells to oxidative stress. Manipulation of TXNIP could serve as a therapy to prevent and treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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Andrew Paterson Laboratory

Dr. Paterson’s research examines how post-translational modification by O-GlcNAc of important regulatory proteins regulates protein networks in cells. He has discovered that changes in nutritional states that can occur in cancer and metabolic diseases alters global cellular processes through O-GlcNAc modification of signaling proteins. Novel pharmacologic strategies controlling O-GlcNAc modification could translate into therapies targeting cancer cachexia and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

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Jeonga Kim Laboratory

Dr. Kim’s research team investigates the crosstalk between inflammation and insulin signaling. She is investigating how activation of Toll-like receptors by fatty acids and inflammatory processes occurring in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome alters vascular endothelial cell function. Her research has implications in understanding the mechanisms behind hypertension and atherosclerosis.

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Ronadip Banerjee Laboratory

Dr. Banerjee's overarching research interest is how hormones regulate gene expression in response to changing metabolic demands. Currently his lab is investigating how prolactin receptor (PRLR) signaling orchestrates adaptive maternal responses to the stressors of pregnancy, with a particular focus on the insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells. It is hoped these studies will elucidate both normal mechanisms of pregnancy adaptation and how defects in these processes might contribute to gestational diabetes.

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Chad Hunter Laboratory

Dr. Hunter’s research focuses on understanding how transcription factors and transcriptional co-regulators control decisions governing the development and function of tissues critical for glucose homeostasis, most notably the pancreatic beta-cells. In particular, his lab employs various mouse and cell line models to examine interactions and function of a critical transcriptional co-regulator named LDB1 in the pancreas and (in collaboration with other UAB investigators) other metabolic tissues. Studies like these may inform future diabetes and obesity drug targets or therapies.

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Kirk Habegger Laboratory

The Habegger Research group is a diverse, yet cohesive collection of investigators. His research is targeted on a search for the molecular underpinnings of the onset and progression of Diabetes and Obesity, as well as the development of potential treatments. To do this he utilizes genetic and dietary rodent models of these disease states, as well as intensive molecular and biochemical analyses in cell models. His goal is to dissect the interactions between the Brain and circulating hormones that regulate energy, glucose and lipid metabolism in peripheral tissues such as muscle, liver, and fat. This outlook provides the opportunity to study metabolic regulation and interactions in multiple tissues from the cell to the intact organism. Many of the projects investigate novel pharmacological or surgical therapies against diabetes and obesity in rodent models. Current projects include 1) the novel aspects of glucagon biology including its role in energy balance, glucose metabolism, and the adaptive response to exercise and 2) CNS integration of nutrient sensing.

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Sushant Bhatnagar Laboratory

Dr. Bhatnagar leads a research laboratory working on understanding the regulation of insulin secretion from pancreatic beta-cells. His research group has utilized genetics, bioinformatics, and proteomics approaches to identify novel regulators of beta-cell function. The Bhatnagar lab is currently focused on two projects: The role of tomosyn proteins in insulin secretion and The role of complement 1q-like 3 (C1ql3) protein and it’s G-protein coupled receptor Bai3 in beta-cell function.

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Clinical Research

The Diabetes & Endocrine Clinical Research Unit (DECRU) performs important and cutting edge clinical research studies testing new treatments for diabetes, its complications, and related metabolic or hormonal disorders. These clinical studies or “trials” are sponsored through various mechanisms including the National Institutes of Health, private organizations, and the pharmaceutical industry.

The clinical research studies conducted by our DECRU take place in our Diabetes & Endocrine Clinic, and our Multidisciplinary Comprehensive Diabetes Clinic (MCDC), both at The Kirklin Clinic (TKC) at UAB, and offer our patients and participants the opportunity to play a more active role in their own healthcare. Patients involved in our clinical trials frequently have the opportunity to access potential new treatments before they are widely available. These studies provide important information to advance medical care and are crucial to finding better preventive measures and treatments for diabetes, and other endocrine and metabolic disorders.

After a promising new treatment is developed in the laboratory and its safety and effectiveness are carefully tested in the pre-clinical setting, clinical investigators obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to conduct studies in patients. Participants receive high-quality care and related study medications throughout the trial at no cost. Participating in a clinical trial is an important personal decision.