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Rebecca A. Simmons, MD

Attending Neonatologist

Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

I am a neonatologist interested in fetal growth retardation. Studies suggest that intrauterine growth retardation is associated with a higher risk of obesity, insulin resistance and adult-onset diabetes. My colleagues and I have developed an intrauterine growth retardation model that shows the development of insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. My goal is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of diabetes.

In the lab, we are currently focusing on mitochondrial dysfunction in the b-cell. We are measuring mitochondrial function in pancreatic islets and the gene expression and activity of several enzymes that are key to energy production. We will soon determine whether our animal models develop hepatic insulin resistance. Also, in collaboration with Drs. Franz Matschinsky and Morris Birnbaum at the University of Pennsylvania, a variety of experimental techniques are used, including perfusion studies of isolated islets, measurements of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and utilization using radiolabeled glucose analogs, in vivo euglycemic clamp and oral glucose tolerance studies, RT-PCR, differential display PCR, and Northern and Western Blot analyses.

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