Diabetes in Control speaks with top endocrinologists and other medical professionals to bring you the latest in diabetes news and research. This week, we have another exclusive interview from the ADA 2017 convention in San Diego.
Mary Loeken, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in Reproductive Endocrinology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and did postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Molecular Virology before coming to Joslin in 1988. She has received a Capps Scholar in Diabetes Research Award and a Scholars in Medicine Award from Harvard Medical School. She has served on study sections for the NIH, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and as a grant reviewer for numerous international funding agencies. She has served on the Editorial Board for the journal, Diabetes, and is a co-editor of Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews. She is an International Member of the Diabetic Pregnancy Study Group of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes from which she received the John Stowers Research Award in 2008. Dr. Loeken is an Investigator in the Section on Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology at Joslin and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The Loeken lab studies the molecular causes of diabetic embryopathy, a diabetic complication in which the embryos of mothers with pregestational diabetes develop congenital malformations. Her laboratory developed a mouse model of diabetic pregnancy with which they have studied how maternal hyperglycemia causes neural tube defects, one of the most common malformations that occur in human diabetic pregnancy. They have delineated several biochemical processes that are perturbed by excess glucose metabolism and prevent induction of genes that regulate neural tube closure, and have demonstrated how abnormal embryo gene expression leads to apoptosis, causing a neural tube defect. Recently, they have established new murine embryonic stem cell lines under physiological glucose and oxygen conditions. These cell lines enable the study of embryo gene expression in response to normal and excess glucose metabolism. The ultimate goal of our research is to advance methods to prevent, detect, or treat congenital malformations induced by diabetic pregnancy.
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