Division of Cardiometabolic Health

The ONPRC Division of Cardiometabolic Health was established in 2016 as a reorganized version of the previous Division of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism and is focused on research efforts in both cardiovascular disease and what has been cumulatively referred to as metabolic diseases, which includes diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. Together these diseases are by far the most common cause of preventable death in the United States and are responsible for more than $600 billion in health care costs, which represents more than 30% of overall health care costs in the United States. The scientific goal of this division is to understand the underlying causes and pathophysiology of cardiometabolic disease, as well as pursuing effective and safe interventions and therapeutics. A major focus of the Division has been to uncover the early processes that to the initiation of atherosclerotic disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes that can be targeted to halt disease progression at an early stage. While there has been intense focus on understanding the pathogenesis and treatment of cardiometabolic diseases over the last decade, progress has been limited by a dearth of appropriate preclinical models that naturally develop the full spectrum of disease complications observed in humans. Our new Division brings together internationally renowned scientists with access to critical nonhuman primate models and state-of-the-art research tools and facilities to address this worldwide health epidemic.

Investigators in the Division have diverse expertise in terms of knowledge and investigational tools. In the area of metabolic diseases, there is expertise in islet and adipose tissue function and pathology, as well as central nervous system control of appetite and energy expenditure and substrate utilization. Division investigators in cardiovascular medicine are recognized for their contributions to understanding the pathogenesis of early atherosclerosis and microvascular dysfunction and their development of new non-invasive diagnostics. One of the key research assets of the Division is the Obese NHP Resource, directed by Dr. Paul Kievit. The resource primarily employs a nonhuman primate model of diet-induced obesity (DIO) which has proven to be critical in the understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying the disease process, and in many cases provides the only preclinical animal species that truly models the pathophysiology of these diseases in humans. These NHP models have provided an important competitive advantage for our investigators in obtaining funding from both the NIH and through industry sponsored collaborations. Scientists in the Division are also responsible for the development of the unique Primate Multimodality Imaging Center (PMIC) which allows scientists to use state-of-the-art non-invasive imaging (nuclear imaging with PET and SPECT, computed tomography, ultrasound and angiography) to better understand disease pathogenesis and therapy using safe non-invasive methods similar to what is used in humans. Our scientists have strong connections with both academic and clinical departments at OHSU, supporting the dedication of the Division and the ONPRC to true translational science. Our scientists also actively participate in the training and mentoring of scientists at all levels and are involved in several postdoctoral and clinical training grants.

The Division currently consists of 3 core scientists and 3 staff scientists who are internationally recognized. The Division has consistently had over $5 million (direct costs) of funding active over the past 4 years, with the majority coming from NIH and the rest from industry collaborations.

See a list of scientists in the Division of Cardiometabolic Health.