Cynthia Mastick Ph.D.: Biography/Education

Associate Professor

Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology | Department of Pharmacology

Education

  • Ph.D. Cellular and Molecular Biology, 1990 Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • B.Sc. Biochemistry, 1985 Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Research

The main role of insulin in the body is to regulate the levels of glucose and lipid in the blood. After feeding, when glucose and lipid levels are high, insulin is secreted from the pancreas and travels through the blood to three major target tissues: liver, muscle, and adipose tissue (fat). In these tissues, insulin stimulates the clearance of glucose and lipid from the blood by stimulating the conversion of these molecules into glycogen and fat, and preventing the breakdown of these storage molecules. Insulin also increases the rate of glucose transport into fat and muscle (10-50-fold). In type II, or adult onset diabetes, the target tissues no longer respond to insulin. This results in elevated blood glucose and lipid levels, which leads to the major complications of this chronic and debilitating disease. These include heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage (resulting in amputation). The main research questions in my lab are how does insulin regulate glucose transport and glucose metabolism at the molecular level, and what goes wrong with these pathways in type II diabetes. Our goal is to identify novel therapeutic targets to treat this very common, devastating disease. Current research is focused on the regulation of glucose transport in adipocytes.


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