I was originally trained as an electrical engineer at Case Institute of Technology (now Case-Western Reserve University). This training led to my appreciation of how systems composed of different components can work together to achieve a common goal. I believed that this "systems approach" had wider applicability.
I pursued my doctorate in physiology — the study of body function — at the University of Pittsburgh. That department focused primarily on endocrinology. I was influenced by outstanding researchers there to examine the use of concepts from systems biology to study the causes of diabetes mellitus. Since then, the prevalence of Type 2 ("adult type") diabetes has increased alarmingly, providing an opportunity and a great need to study this disease.
Application of the systems approach led me and my colleagues to understand blood glucose regulation in quantitative terms. We showed that there is a stereotypic hyperbolic relationship between insulin action and insulin secretion, and the parameter defining that relationship — the disposition index — is the most powerful predictor of diabetes risk. We applied our ideas to large epidemiologic and genetic studies.
In my Bergman Laboratory, we are studying the relationship between obesity and diabetes, and why bariatric ("metabolic") surgery can cure diabetes. Our interest is in the involvement of insulin disappearance in the pathogenesis of diabetes. The Bergman Lab has investigated the mechanisms underlying how several drug classes (cannabinoid antagonists, SGLT2 inhibitors, antipsychotics) interact to change diabetes risk. I founded the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute to carry on our studies to predict, prevent, treat and hopefully cure diabetes during our working lives. I should add that I have two children and five grandchildren, and I am a blues musician (guitar, harmonica, trombone) and a member of the "Lap Band." We play at Cedars-Sinai during the holiday party in December.