This application is in response to RFA GM-08-010 (Short Courses in Integrative and Organ Systems Pharmacology). A two-week short course entitled, an organ systems approach to experimental targeting of the Metabolic Syndrome is proposed. The Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of metabolic risk factors that when they occur together increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. These risk factors include insulin resistance, central obesity, dyslipidemia and hypertension. The Metabolic Syndrome is an epidemic and its prevalence is still on the rise. The demands on the US Health Care System resulting from its pathology are debilitating to the economy. Clearly, there is a need to understand the pathogenesis of the Metabolic Syndrome and learn ways to treat it. This is challenging because it is a condition that involves organ system cross talk and understanding it requires knowledge of integrated physiology. Over the last 30 years physiology and pharmacology graduate programs have shifted their emphasis to cell biology. Consequently, there is a generation of physiologists and pharmacologists that lack experience in organ system physiology. Thus, there is a great need to restore and contemporize the toolbox for the study of integrated physiology. The objective of the course will be to give students the tools needed to assess whether an experimental intervention (pharmacologic, genetic, dietary, or environmental) alters macronutrient metabolism, energy balance, cardiovascular homeostasis or animal behavior. Moreover students will learn how to measure whole body and tissue specific kinetics, the principles of which can be applied to the kinetics of drugs, substrates and hormones. To accomplish this we will use a combination of lectures, hands on laboratories, demonstrations and data problem sessions. Three guiding principles thread through the course components. 1) organ systems do not function in isolation;2) primary mechanisms can best be identified by disrupting compensatory feedback loops using tools such as a """"""""glucose clamp."""""""" 3) proper animal care is critical to good outcomes. With regard to the last the privilege of animal research is accompanied by the responsibility of treating animals humanely. Students will learn that the quality of data obtained in animal models is directly related to the health and well-being of the animals. All procedures involving animals will follow USDA and AAALAC guidelines. Vanderbilt is the ideal place to conduct such a course. Vanderbilt has a strong history in the physiologic regulation of metabolic, hemodynamic, neurobehavioral processes, and pharmacological testing. Vanderbilt is internationally recognized for its excellence in translational research that uses bench to bedside research to improve drug therapy for human disease. The Vanderbilt Metabolic Physiology Shared Resource (VMPSR) is comprised of core resources of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center (VDRTC) and the Vanderbilt Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center (VMMPC) and will provide infrastructure for the course. VMPSR personnel have extensive experience with experimental surgery and procedures for studying metabolism and cardiovascular function in vivo. Organ system approaches will be used to study metabolic flux, endocrine function, animal behavior and cardiovascular function in conscious animals and these will be correlated with results in vitro systems. The VMMPC gives a course annually in which it teaches the skills necessary to assess insulin action in mice. This course has attracted investigators from all over the world. We will use this experience in developing An organ systems approach to experimental targeting of the Metabolic Syndrome. Vanderbilt also has strong Murine Neurobehavioral Core Laboratories and a state of the art imaging institute that actively support both basic research and drug discovery programs. We will combine the strengths of the Vanderbilt community with faculty from other institutions in the national MMPC program to provide a comprehensive course for students to learn how to study the Metabolic Syndrome and its components in animals.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of this course is to train investigators to do studies in animals so they can effectively develop and evaluate therapeutic targets to treat diabetes and obesity before they enter the clinic. Most graduate students in the basic biomedical sciences receive limited training in physiology and integrative pharmacology. The benefit to human disease is that these trainees will now be equipped with the tools necessary to fill a void in our training programs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1-BRT-7 (SC))
Program Officer
Okita, Richard T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code