Dr. Cusi’s grants focus on cutting-edge research in adult endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, both on clinical and basic research aspects related to the role of obesity and lipotoxicity in the development of Type 2 diabetes and its complications, in particular, the pathogenesis of NAFLD. He has published more than 90 original articles, invited reviews and book chapters in the main journals in the fields of obesity, diabetes and liver disease. Dr. Cusi is a nationally and internationally recognized investigator and speaker on the impact of NAFLD in humans, including a frequently cited paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on the first effective pharmacological agent for the treatment of NAFLD, a common and potentially serious complication of obesity and T2DM that may lead to severe liver damage. He is a reviewer in numerous scientific journals. Dr. Cusi is also vice-president and co-founder of Children in Need, Inc., an organization created to assist disadvantaged children and their families in third world countries, with emphasis on hospitals and schools in Southern Africa.
Dr. Stacpoole’s laboratory and clinical research focuses on the causes and treatment on human intermediary metabolism and on the causes and treatment of acquired and congenital mitochondrial diseases. He developed a prototype, dichloroacetate (DCA), of a new class of cellular metabolic modulators that acts by targeting a key component of mitochondrial energy metabolism, the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme complex (PDC).
This work has been translated into clinical trials of DCA in children with congenital PDC deficiency and in adults with malignant brain tumors or pulmonary arterial hypertension, conditions in which the PDC is pathologically inhibited.
Dr. Stacpoole also collaborates with other UF researchers to investigate 1-carbon metabolism in healthy humans and in those with experimentally-induced deficiency of vitamins essential to this process.
Dr. Clare-Salzler, whose primary appointment is with the Department of Pathology, has a research program looking at immune mechanisms in autoimmune thyroid disease and Type I diabetes.
Dr. Troy Donahoo has been doing research in the field of obesity and metabolism for over two decades. His research spans the spectrum from very large pharmaco-epidemiology and comparative effectiveness studies in people with obesity following bariatric surgery (a, b, c) to programmatic research evaluating physician practice, education and obesity management programs (f, g, h) to small clinical trials evaluating interventions for obesity and physiological mechanisms underlying the obese and reduced obese state (d, e). Since coming to the University of Florida, Dr. Donahoo has become part of three research groups allowing him to continue obesity research in these diverse areas. As part of the OneFlorida Clinical Distributed Research Network, Dr. Donahoo has continued work in the area of “Big Data” related to people with obesity as part of the Obesity Team and the Obesity Working Group. Additionally, Dr. Donahoo has joined Dr. Carolyn Tucker’s group evaluating in Black Churches of a novel obesity management program called “Health-Smart”; Dr. Donahoo is specifically helping to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention and the programmatic outcomes using RE-AIM framework. Finally, Dr. Donahoo has joined Dr. Cusi’s research group evaluating Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLD). Dr. Donahoo’s current work in the area of small clinical trials designed to evaluate interventions and also understand mechanisms (supported by the Gatorade Trust through funds distributed by the University of Florida Department of Medicine) is building upon work he recently published evaluating Alternate Day Fasting in people with obesity (i) and expanding this novel intervention to people with NAFLD and diabetes.
Dr. Julio Leey’s research interest focuses mainly on two areas:
- Endocrine disorders related to Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD) is a major morbidity and mortality factor among patients with CF. With funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Dr Leey is developing diagnostic tools to identify CF patients who are at risk for CFRD, and to avoid delays in the treatment of newly diagnosed CFRD patients. Another area of interest is to determine risk factors for complications after lung transplant in this population.
- Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Noninvasive methods to diagnose NASH and effective pharmacologic treatment are scarce, as a member of Dr. Cusi’s research group, Dr. Leey is collaborating in several clinical studies to address those two issues.
Dr. Fernando Bril
Dr. Fernando Bril’s current research interest focuses in understanding the metabolic impact that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and specifically its more severe form nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), may have in patients with obesity and/or type 2 diabetes. He is involved in several clinical research studies assessing the prevalence of NAFLD in specific ethnic groups using the gold-standard proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS), and also in randomized clinical trials assessing different drugs that could potentially be used to treat this condition. Since joining Dr. Kenneth Cusi’s research group at UF, he has made some valuable contributions to the field, including two recent articles on the role of plasma vitamin D (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25195551) and impaired insulin clearance (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24777953) to the development of NAFLD and NASH.
Dr. Naykky Singh Ospina research interests include evidence-based medicine and shared decision making with the goal of improving the care of patients with endocrine conditions. She has several publications addressing the management and diagnosis of thyroid nodules. She is currently working with other researchers of the UF to develop an electronic tool to improve the quality of the inform consent process for patients considering a thyroid biopsy.