Viorica Ionut, MD, PhD

Research Scientist, Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute
Phone:(310) 967-2779
Fax:(310) 967-3869

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences

Awards and Activities

Endocrine Society Scholars Award2007
Aventis Metabolism Scholar Award, AFMR2005
Iuliu Moldovan Award for Basic Sciences Research1994
Reviewer, Journal of Pharmacy and PharmacologyCurrent
Reviewer, ObesityCurrent
Reviewer, DiabetesCurrent
Reviewer, American Journal of PhysiologyCurrent
Reviewer, Liver InternationalCurrent
Reviewer, Expert Opinion in Investigational DrugsCurrent
Reviewer, Journal of Diabetes Science & TechnologyCurrent
Member, The Obesity Society2004
Member, American Federation for Medical Research2004
Member, The Endocrine Society2007
Member, American Diabetes Association2010
Member, European Association for the Study of Diabetes2011

Research Focus

Gut-liver-brain communication in control of glucose homeostasis with special focus on incretin hormones in Type 2 diabetes, obesity and in bariatric(metabolic) surgery-induced changes. Our research uses clinical and pre-clinical models to investigate how the intestinal tract communicates to other organs (such as liver and brain), how this communication is impaired in diabetes and obesity and how we can use this information to develop better therapeutic strategies for addressing the diabetes and obesity epidemic.

Research Contributions

We identified the porto-hepatic area as a new locus for sensing metabolic and hormonal information from the intestine, and we established the importance of this region in controlling blood glucose levels independent of pancreatic hormones, with significant implications for treatment of Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes.

Current investigations include:

Our current research focuses on: a) evaluation of brain activation by gut hormones in patients with Type 2 diabetes and obesity using functional MRI; b) investigating the role of gut hormones and of gut-brain communication in bariatric surgery-induced changes, and c) assessing the effect of intestinal incretin hormones on liver glucose uptake and input using an in vivo model of lactate kinetics.

Selected Publications

  1. Ionut V, Burch M, Youdim A, Bergman RN: Gastrointestinal hormones and bariatric surgery-induced weight loss. Obesity (Silver Spring), 21(6): 1093-103, 2013
  2. Stefanovski D, Youn JH, Rees M, Watanabe RM, Ader M, Ionut V, Jackson AU, Boehnke M, Collins FS, Bergman RN: Estimating hepatic glucokinase activity using a simple model of lactate kinetics. Diabetes Care, 35(5): 1015-20, 2012
  3. Ionut V, Bergman RN: Mechanisms responsible for excess weight loss after bariatric surgery. J Diabetes Sci Technol, 5(5): 1263-82, 2011
  4. Zheng D, Ionut V, Mooradian V, Stefanovski D, Bergman RN: Portal glucose infusion-glucose clamp measures hepatic influence on postprandial systemic glucose appearance as well as whole body glucose disposal. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab., 298(2): E346-53, 2009
  5. Ionut V, Zheng D, Stefanovski D, Bergman RN: Exenatide can reduce glucose independent of islet hormones or gastric emptying. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab., 295(2): E269-77, 2008
  6. Ionut V, Hucking K, Liberty IF, Bergman RN: Synergistic effect of portal glucose and glucagon-like peptide-1 to lower systemic glucose and stimulate counter-regulatory hormones. Diabetologia, 48(5): 967-75, 2005
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