Marilyn Ader, PhD, received her doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Southern California and her masters in biological sciences from Kent State University. Ader has performed basic and translational research in diabetes and obesity for more than 30 years with particular emphasis on the mechanisms by which multiple organ systems interact to maintain glucose homeostasis, and the role impaired interactions contribute to the pathogenesis of diabetes. She has presented extensively on her basic and clinical studies to elucidate the mechanistic link between atypical antipsychotic treatment, obesity and increased diabetes risk. Ader has served on many NIH grant review committees in the areas of obesity, diabetes, metabolism and antipsychotics. She was co-editor-in-chief of Obesity, the flagship scientific journal of The Obesity Society. She is also the director of the masters program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine at Cedars-Sinai.
Isaac Asare Bediako is a fourth year graduate student studying insulin clearance. Insulin, when secreted by the pancreatic beta cells, must traverse the liver before entering the systemic circulation to be accessed by other tissues like muscle and adipose. During this first passage through the liver, about 50 percent of the insulin is destroyed. Thus, plasma insulin s a function of both pancreatic beta cell secretion and hepatic insulin extraction. C-peptide, which is co-secreted with insulin, can be used as a reasonable surrogate for insulin secretion, but different methods are used to estimate hepatic insulin clearance with, often, different results. His research focus takes advantage of our ability to cannulate the portal vein connecting the pancreas to the liver. Using this access, they can measure how much of insulin administered into the portal vein is directly extracted by the liver. This direct measurement can then be compared with the different surrogate measures to establish the most accurate approach to estimate hepatic insulin clearance.
Josiane Broussard, PhD, earned her doctorate in molecular metabolism and nutrition at the University of Chicago. Her current studies include animal, tissue and human models to understand how insufficient sleep may increase the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Viorica (Vivi) Ionut, MD, PhD, earned her medical degree at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iuliu Hatieganu, Cluj, Romania, and her doctorate at the University of Southern California. Her current research focuses on the evaluation of brain activation by gut hormones in patients with Type 2 diabetes and obesity using functional MRI, investigating the role of gut hormones and of gut-brain communication in bariatric surgery-induced changes and assessing the effect of intestinal incretin hormones on liver glucose uptake and input using an in vivo model of lactate kinetics.
Malini Iyer moved to Los Angeles from Mumbai to pursue her master's degree research with Richard N. Bergman, PhD, in 2007. She later moved with Bergman to Cedars-Sinai to pursue her doctoral research. Currently, she is investigating the role of the sympathetic nervous system in diet-induced insulin resistance.
Morvarid (Mori) Kabir, PhD, is currently the head of the molecular biology core in the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. She earned her doctorate from the Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France. With more than 20 years of experience, her research focus is in understanding the molecular regulation of adipose tissue from different anatomical depots, and why intra-abdominal obesity is associated with the whole body and hepatic insulin resistance. She utilizes molecular and cellular techniques to examine the interplay between adipose tissue and the liver during insulin resistance and obesity using interventions such as fat feeding and insulin sensitizing drugs such as a selective endocannabinoid receptor antagonist.
Stella Kim, PhD, earned her bachelor's degree in physiological science from the UCLA and her doctorate in biophysics and physiology from the University of Southern California. Her primary research interests include the mechanisms underlying compensatory hyperinsulinemia during insulin resistance associated with obesity, with a specific interest in the role of liver insulin clearance.
Cathryn Kolka, PhD, has expertise on the role of the vascular system in the metabolic effects of insulin. She earned her doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Tasmania, where she investigated the role of blood flow distribution on metabolism. Her current studies investigate the ability of insulin to access skeletal muscle in diet-induced obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, and emphasize the physiological role of the vascular endothelium on metabolic outcomes.
Hasmik (Jasmine) Mkrtchyan graduated from Medical University in Armenia. From 2005 to 2010, she worked at the University of Southern California, where she performed surgeries (gastrostomic catheter implantation). Since 2011, she has been working in the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at Cedar Sinai collaborating on several research projects.
Rebecca Paszkiewicz graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Iowa in 2009. She joined the Bergman Lab in 2013 as a doctoral candidate. Her thesis project uses the endoscopically implanted EndoBarrier to explore the mechanism of diabetes remission following weight loss surgery.
Rita Thomas has been in the Bergman Laboratory for more than 25 years. She has provided technical expertise on several human and animal projects. She also has expertise in quantifying images obtained from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Currently, she is in charge of all the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, radioimmunoassays and colorimetric assays, in addition to overseeing the laboratory supply inventory.
Orison Woolcott, MD, has primary research interests involving the study of the mechanisms involved in the regulation of insulin secretion and the pathophysiology of insulin resistance. He is also interested in exploring the potential beneficial effects of altitude exposure on glucose metabolism, which could have an impact on obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Patricia Corona received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business. She has worked for the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute since it began in 2011. Corona oversees the daily operations of the Institute, including: preparing documents for grants, contracts and consulting agreements (Federal, industry and non-profit); implementing policies and procedures within the Institute; developing reports, tables and graphs, e.g., budgets; and acting as a resource on Cedars-Sinai standard operating procedure (visa issues, etc.). Prior to working for the Institute, Corona worked for 19 years as the senior administrator for the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, all of which was under Richard N. Bergman, PhD, as Chair.
Hannah Freed has a bachelor’s degree in zoology and general biology from Humboldt State University. She has worked with the Bergman Lab in various capacities since 1999, including in the Bergman Laboratory at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California (USC) from 1999–2003, and then as the assistant of Richard N. Bergman, PhD, both at USC and Cedars-Sinai. In addition, from June 2007 to July 2012, Freed was the assistant to the editor-in-chief (Bergman) for Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society.