Abel Research Lab
The Abel Research Lab originated at Harvard Medical School in Boston in 1995, and moved to the University of Utah in 2000. Our current research interests focus on elucidating the molecular mechanisms leading to cardiac dysfunction in diabetes and the regulation of myocardial growth and metabolism by insulin signaling.
Our laboratory objectives include:
Elucidating the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for cardiac failure in diabetes.
Elucidating the molecular signals that coordinate the mitochondrial and metabolic adaptations to cardiac growth.
Elucidating the mechanisms by which insulin and growth factor signaling regulate cardiac mitochondrial metabolism and the adaptation of the heart to stress.
Elucidating the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, diabetes and its complications.
Our recent studies have underscored the importance of mitochondrial oxidative stress as a major mechanism leading to cardiac dysfunction in obesity and diabetes. We have shown for example that multiple abnormalities such as increased myocardial fatty acid delivery or impaired insulin signal transduction independently impair mitochondrial function and the expression of gene regulatory pathways that encode many mitochondrial proteins. We have relied heavily on transgenic and gene-targeted mice (conventional as well as conditional and cell-type restricted KO mice) to address many of these questions.
We have also developed a comprehensive array of approaches such as measurement of mitochondrial energetics in subcellular organelles, determination of substrate flux in intact hearts, as well as cardiovascular phenotyping in intact mice. We are also using proteomics and gene arrays to identify novel insulin-regulated targets in the mitochondria and validating these results using cell-culture models and transcriptional assays.
Evan Dale Abel is currently a Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, Chief of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, and an Investigator in the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He received his medical degree with Distinction from the University of the West Indies –U.W.I. (first in the history of the U.W.I.) then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he obtained his D.Phil (Ph.D.) under the mentorship of Professor John Ledingham in the Nuffield Department of Medicine. After his doctoral studies he completed internal medicine residency training at Northwestern University in Chicago where he served as Chief Medical Resident. Dr. Abel was then recruited to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as an endocrinology fellow in the Harvard Medical School Longwood Area Endocrinology Program. He served with distinction and received while there, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Minority Faculty Development Fellowship. He subsequently remained on the faculty of Harvard and became the co-director of the Endocrinology Fellowship Program at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He was recruited to the University of Utah in 2000 initially as an Assistant Professor and was promoted within 3 years to Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Medicine and Division of Endocrinology Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Utah School of Medicine. In 2007, he was appointed to Chief of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes and promoted to Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry in 2008.
Dr. Abel has had a distinguished career in endocrine related research. As a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Barbara Kahn he performed seminal studies that established the critical link between adipose-tissue glucose transporter (GLUT4) expression and whole body insulin resistance. This work was published in Nature. Subsequent studies in this model by Dr. Kahn have lead to the discovery of a novel adipocytokine (retinol binding protein –4) that may be involved in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and diabetes. As a member if the Thyroid Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Abel carried out landmark studies that defined the role of the beta-2 isoform of the thyroid receptor in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. His work in this area was recognized when he received the Van Meter Prize of the American Thyroid Association in 2001, which is the highest award given to young investigators by that society.
Dr. Abel’s pioneering work in the area of glucose transport in the heart helped to foster his current research interests that include the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for cardiac dysfunction in diabetes. He currently directs an active research group whose main focus is the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that lead to cardiac dysfunction in diabetes and the regulation of myocardial growth and metabolism by insulin signaling. His laboratory has made important recent observations that have elucidated the role that mitochondrial dysfunction plays in altering cardiac metabolism, thereby contributing to the pathogenesis of cardiac dysfunction in the diabetic heart. Dr. Abel’s research program has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995, and also by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is a sought after speaker both nationally and internationally, having presented his work at numerous national and international symposia. In 2008, Dr. Abel chaired the Keystone Symposia Meeting on Metabolism and Vascular risks.
Dr. Abel has been the recipient of numerous scholastic honors that are too numerous to list. But important ones to highlight include -the Rhodes Scholarship, the Webster Award for the best senior resident – Northwestern University School of Medicine, Eleanor and Miles Shore, 50 th Anniversary Scholars in Medicine Fellowship –Harvard Medical School (HMS), HMS-Class of 2002 excellence in teaching award, Van Meter Award –American Thyroid Association, David W. Haack Memorial Award in Cardiovascular Research, William Odell Young Investigator Award-Department of Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Heart and Stroke Foundation/Richard Lewar center of Excellence Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Toronto, Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2004, and the Josie Johnson Professorship in Molecular Biology.
Dr. Abel is committed to mentoring the next generation of endocrine researchers and biomedical scientists. In the past seven years he has supervised many post-doctoral research fellows and graduate students and undergraduates and medical students in his laboratory. He has mentored summer students sponsored by the Endocrine Society and the American Heart Association. He has served as the program chair for the annual workshop of the Network of Minority Investigators (sponsored by the NIDDK), whose goal is to increase the likelihood that minority investigators will succeed in biomedical research. He was recently appointed as the director for Medical Student Research at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Abel has served on the Minority Affairs Committee of the Endocrine Society and now servers on the Research Affairs Committee. He is a member of the NIDDK “B” study section, the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute Medical Student Research Fellowship Review panel, and served as a member of the council of the Western Section of the American Federation for Medical Research. He is also currently a member of council of the (WSCI) Western Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Abel is Vice Chair of the scientific board of the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Committee.
More recently, Dr. Abel was honored with a 2011 Distinguished Mentor Award in recognition of his exceptional mentoring of students and post-doctoral scholars. He was elected to serve on the council of The Endocrine Society in June, 2011 and was also elected to the prestigious Association of American Physicians in April 2011 for his outstanding research in molecular mechanisms that lead to diabetes and obesity related heart dysfunction and insulin resistance.
Current Lab Members
Yuan Jiang, MD, PhD
Renata Pereira, PhD
Christian Riehle, MD, PhD
Rhonda Souvenir, MD, PhD
Kensuke Tsushima, MD, PhD
Quan Jiang Zhang, MD, PhD
Graduate and Medical Students:
Former Lab Members
Sihem Boudina, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Endocrinology, University of Utah SOM
Aili Guo M.D Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Ohio University
Sandra Sena Ph.D., Post Doc at INSERM U889/GREF, Bordeaux 2 University, France
Ellis Jensen Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Viterbo University
Vlad G. Zaha M.D., Ph.D., Cardiology Fellow, Yale University School of Medicine
Pradip K. Mazumder Ph.D., President R & D, KEE-GAD Biogen Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, India
Justin Carlstrom Ph.D., Exercise Physiologist USA Ski Team
Gopa Chakrabarti Ph.D
Cristophe Graveleau Ph.D
Sandrine Betuing Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory of Neurobiology, INSERM E 9913,
University of 'Evry Val d'Essone', Paris, France.
Post-doctoral fellow Dana Farber Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School
Alfred P. McQueen M.D., University of Virginia School of Law
LeAnne Swenson M.D., Endocrinology Private Practice
Imene Tabbi-Anneni Ph.D
Brian O'Neil M.D., Ph.D., Physician Scientist Training Program and Endocrine Fellow, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
Heiko Bugger, Ph.D., Resident, Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Freiburg
Jaetaek Kim, Ph.D., Chief Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, Chung An University Hospital, Seoul Korea.
Josie I. Johnson Ph.D., Student in Biochemistry University of Utah – deceased
Pilar Caro-Martin Ph.D., Student Complutense University, Madrid, Spain. CurrentlyPost-doctoral Fellow Dana Farber Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School
Annie Bello, Ph.D., Nutritionist, Rio de janeiro, Brasil
Karla M. Pires, Ph.D., student at State University of Rio de Janeiro, Department of Pharmacology
Andrew Carpenter, University of Utah 4th Year Medical Student
Kimberly T. Fountain -University of Utah, Graduated 2008
James Hoffman, University of Utah, Graduated 2005
Michelle Richins, University of Utah
Sergio Gonzales, University of Utah, Graduated 2007
Eric Palfreyman, University of Utah, Graduated 2007
Donald Davis, University of Utah, Graduated 2007
Nicole Wilde, University of Utah, Graduated 2008
Daniel Bennett, University of Utah, 3rd Year Medical Student
Donya Mohebali,Medical Student, University of Utah
Arash Mohajer, PharmD Graduate, University of Utah
Alex Hernandez, MD graduate, University of Utah
Matthew Roberts, MD graduate, University of Tennessee
Jun Z. Luo, MD graduate, University of Utah
Blake Niederhauser - MD Graduate, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Ryan Funk - MD PhD student, Washington University School of Medicine
Maryam Safaee - Medical Student, University of Utah
Henry Tran. Medical Student, University of Utah
James Lee, Medical Student, University of Utah
Xiaoxuan (Sharon) Hu, PharmD Student, University of Maryland
Jonathan Buchanan, Resident at Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine
Ui Jeong Yun
Isaac Rasmussen, Family Medicine Resident at Utah Valley Medical Center, Provo, Utah
Benjamin Wayment, Medical Student at Ross University, Dominica, West Indies
- Two Faculty Members Named to Benning Chairs More>>
- Seminal Work on Heart Dysfunction in Diabetes Earns U Endocrinologist Top Award from International Endocrine Society More>>
- Chief E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, is honored with a 2011 Distinguished Mentor Award in recognition of his exceptional mentoring of students and post-doctoral scholars. More>>
- Dr. Abel is elected to serve on the council of The Endocrine Society effective June 7, 2011. More>>
- Congratulations to our Chief E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, for his recent election to the prestigious Association of American Physicians! This venerable organization will be honoring Dr. Abel in April for his outstanding research in molecular mechanisms that lead to diabetes and obesity related heart dysfunction and insulin resistance. Also being honored at the AAP's annual meeting will be Dr. Abel's colleague, Cardiologist Dean Li, MD, PhD, who is being elected due to his breakthrough research in vascular diseases. Read more about this great honor.
- The American Diabetes Association's Forefront magazine recently highlighted research being done by Dr. Dale Abel, Dr. Sandra Sena, and Dr. J. David Symons that will allow a better understanding of how diabetes can damage mitochondria in the heart, and how new treatments may help lessen the impact of diabetes on the heart. Click here to read the full article.
- Thyroid Awareness Month - The Deseret News article "Cold, tired, weight gain, hair loss? Your thyroid may be culprit" by Brooke Brown, stresses the importance of increasing awareness about thyroid disease, but offers differing viewpoints about the best way to test for the disease. Dr. Dale Abel, whose interview begins halfway through the article, agrees with the importance of increasing public awareness of thyroid problems, but believes the standard TSH test is sufficient for an initial screening for thyroid disease.
- Adam Wende of the Abel Lab comes in first at the ADA 5k. Click here for pictures
- March 2009 - E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism received the Outstanding Investigator Award from the Western Society for Clinical Investigation. The award is the highest honor given by the WSCI for scientific achievement of its members.
- Abel Lab work featured on the November 2008 cover of Molecular Endocrinology
- Keystone Symposia, September 23-28, 2008 Organized by Dr. E. Dale Abel
- Article From the recent American Diabetes Association Meeting
A Pioneer in the field of Endocrine-related research will present new data....(p.04)
- Dale Abel's presentation summary from the Second Oriental Congress of Cardiology held in Shanghai China
- Daily Utah Chronicle- U's Young Scientist Unraveling Mystery Behind Heart disease-News
Dr. Dale Abel studies the effects of diabetes on the heart with genetically engineered mice. He's recognized as one of the top young Scientist in the...
- Unews-University of Utah medical school researchers receive nearly $3million in grants to study diabetes
University of Utah endocrinologist E. Dale Abel, M.D., Ph.D., assocate professor of internal medicine and an investigator with the University's Program in...
- E. Dale Abel elected President of the Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism
- Dr. Abel's trip to Chile covered in Chilean newspaper