Profiles of BBDC Members Primarily Involved In Diabetes Research

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Vranic, Mladen - O.C., O.Ont, MD, DSc, FRSC, FRCP(C), FCAHS

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor Emeritus, Departments of Physiology and Medicine

Other Appointment(s):

  • Adjunct Professor, Karolinska Institute and University of Zagreb
  • Laureate, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
  • Corresponding Member, Croatian Academic of Arts and Sciences
  • Honorary President International Academy of Sportology (Japan)
  • Canadian Diabetes Association Inaugural Life-Time Achievement Award for leadership in diabetes research and contribution to the Canadian diabetes community
  • Albert Renold Award of the American Diabetes Association for a distinguished career in the training of diabetes research scientists and facilitation of research (the only Canadian to receive this award)
  • Banting Medal and Lectureship recipient from the American Diabetes Association
  • Honourary degrees from the Universities of Toronto, Zagreb, Saskatchewan, McMaster and Karolinska Institute.

Contact Information:
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3363
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON   M5S 1A8

Phone: (416) 978-4126
Fax: (416) 978-4940
Email: mladen.vranic@utoronto.ca
Websites: http://www.physiology.utoronto.ca/mladen-vranic-phd

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Dr. Vranic's discoveries concerning the relationship between exercise, stress and diabetes have had an important impact on individuals suffering from this disease. His ground-breaking studies have opened many doors for diabetics, including participation in Olympic Games. His development of tracer methods revolutionized the field of glucose turnover in physiology and diabetes, paving the way for clinical investigation leading to the translation of basic science to practice. He led the first international symposium on exercise and diabetes, which had a large impact, facilitating the evidence of epidemiologists that exercise can prevent diabetes. His discovery of extrapancreatic glucagon changed existing dogma that pancreatic hormone is synthesized in only one gland, and provided evidence about the importance of glucagon in diabetes. He demonstrated mechanisms whereby the muscle and the liver are protected against hyperglycemia and therefore, against diabetic complications. He pioneered the concept that some stresses are beneficial for diabetes and is currently developing methods to prevent hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes. He has a patent regarding the prevention of hypoglycemia in insulin-treated diabetic patients. This topic is presently researched between four different institutions. He has trained a large number of graduate and post-doctoral students, and has widely collaborated with younger scientists, some of whom are presently world-leaders in diabetes research. Three of his students were Presidents of the Canadian, American, and Japanese Diabetes Associations.

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Vuksan, Vladimir - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Medicine, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointment(s): Research Scientist II, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital
Associate Director, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital
Manager, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital
 

Contact Information:
193 Yonge Street, 7th Floor
Toronto, ON   M5B 1M4

Phone: (416) 864-5525
Email: v.vuksan@utoronto.ca

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Viscous Dietary Fiber Blend

This blend maximizes viscosity as a driver of physiological effectiveness in the management of diabetes and reduction of blood lipids. Dr. Vuksan holds Canadian & USA patents for this discovery. His research on fiber blend has attracted the attention of the food industry, and the product is now commercially available worldwide.

Salvia Hispanica L.

The consumption of this ancient Aztec seeds high omega-3/fiber rich, improved conventional and novel risk factors for cardiovascular disease in those with diabetes.  Dr. Vuksan’s studies were the first to demonstrate health benefits of these seeds in humans, gaining the attention internationally of the research community and popular press.  Economic analysis on exports by main producers of Salvia Hispanica, Mexico, Argentina and Australia, show a major surge in export of the seeds coinciding with his publications in 2007/2010.  His research has thus ignited significant economic benefits to countries producing the seeds and the local farmers have led to increased human consumption worldwide.    

Ginseng

Ginseng was hardly known for its metabolic benefits in humans until Dr. Vuksan’s studies in early 2000. His group was the first to demonstrate potential hypoglycaemic efficacy and safety of ginseng. His investigations of the potential of medicinal herbs and ginseng in particular have received international recognitions.

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Wang, Qinghua - MD, PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Associate Professor, Departments of Physiology and Medicine

Other Appointment(s):  
 
 

Contact Information:
St. Michael's Hospital
30 Bond St., Room 7005, Queen Wing
Toronto, ON   M5B 1W8

Phone: (416) 864-6060 Ext. 6767
Fax: (416) 864-6043
Email: wangq@smh.ca
Websites: http://www.physiology.utoronto.ca/res/list/qwang.htm

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research in the Wang lab is focused on understanding the biology the pancreatic islet, im particular the regulation of islet cell secretion and function. We are also studying the biology of GLP-1, an incretin hormone released from gut cell in response to feeding. Among patients with diabetes, while the production of insulin is insufficient, release of GLP-1 is reduced. However, glucagon and glucose production is too high. While seeking a means to increase pancreatic insulin production, enhance GLP-1 action, we are also studying the signaling and molecular control of islet cell-cell interactions in regulating islet beta-cell function and glucose homeostasis during the development of diabetes. Our research is fundamental and translational, aiming at developing new therapeutic strategies that could enable patients with diabetes to permanently manage the disease and effectively avoid its associated complications.

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Wells, Greg - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Assistant Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointment(s): Associate Scientist, Physiology and Experimental Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children
Staff Scientist, Department of Anesthesia, The Toronto General Hospital
 

Contact Information:
55 Harbord Street, Room 60
Toronto, ON   M5S 2W6

Phone: (416) 978-3244
Email: greg.wells@utoronto.ca
Websites: http://www.humanphysiology.utoronto.ca/

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

My research focuses on improving health and performance under extreme conditions such as respiratory and muscle diseases including cystic fibrosis, metabolic syndrome, and cancer in a pediatric population. We use advanced magnetic resonance imaging/spectroscopy techniques to help elucidate pathophysiologies of exercise intolerance in chronic disease. Recently I was involved in a project that evaluated Turner Syndrome (TS) in female adolescences. TS is associated with an increased lifetime risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and we compared cardiometabolic risk factors and measures of subcutaneous, visceral adipose tissue and intra-myocellular lipid between those with TS and healthy controls. In this study we concluded that adolescent TS girls exhibit more cardiometabolic risk factors and reduced beta cell function compared with controls.
I am interested in further exploring how the presence of type 2 diabetes might contribute to exercise intolerance/reduced physical function in other chronic diseases. My research team is working to elucidate the pathophysiology of exercise intolerance in children following bone marrow transplant (BMT) – a population who is at a high risk of developing metabolic syndrome/type 2 diabetes. We plan to determine how the presence of metabolic syndrome/type 2 diabetes might influence cardiac and muscle metabolism in children post-BMT.

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Wen, Xiao-Yan - MD, PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Other Appointment(s): Scientist, Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital
Director, Zebrafish Centre for Advanced Drug Discovery, St. Michael's Hospital

Contact Information:
St. Michael's Hospital
30 Bond Street, Room 8-019, Queen Wing
Toronto, ON   M5B 1W8

Phone: (416) 864-6060 Ext. 3120
Fax: (416) 416-864-5476
Email: x.wen@utoronto.ca
Websites: http://stmichaelshospitalresearch.ca/researchers/xiao-yan-wen/

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The zebrafish has emerged as an important vertebrate model organism for annotation of gene function, modeling human disease and drug discovery. My lab is developing a few projects to: (1) create fluorescent zebrafish models to genetically label pancreatic beta and alpha cells, and then perform lineage specific cell ablation and study their regeneration and relationship; (2) generate novel zebrafish models for anti-diabetic compound screen. We are currently creating a reporter zebrafish strain for monitoring Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (PEPCK) activity, a rate-limiting enzyme in gluconeogenesis. Compounds modulating PEPCK activities in zebrafish and may be developed as novel potent anti-diabetic drugs.

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