Rebecca Haeusler, PhD, wins JCI Award

Congratulations to Naomi Berrie Center Diabetes Center scientist Rebecca Haeusler, PhD, who presented the Award Lecture at the recent Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) annual conference. The JCI is one of the leading journals in the country for applied biomedical research. 

The Award was for a paper published last year in the JCI (titledFoxO transcription factors are required for hepatic HDL cholesterol clearance) written by Dr. Haeusler and her team of researchers at the Berrie Center, where she studies the link between cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The study set out to explain how insulin signaling regulates HDL cholesterol. 

“HDL cholesterol is considered the good cholesterol,” said Dr. Haeusler, an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University. “People who have insulin resistance and T2D have low levels of HDL. It seems as though there is a link between insulin action and HDL cholesterol but no one really understood how and why that is.”

What Dr. Haeusler and colleagues found was that in the liver—the primary site that regulates HDL cholesterol—insulin signaling regulates the clearance of HDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. So it suggests, she said, “a new way to understand why people with insulin resistance have low HDL cholesterol—they have increased clearance of HDL out of the blood.”

Dr. Haeusler, who learned about the JCI Award the night before her lecture (while reading it in the final conference program) called it, “a delightful surprise.” The lecture she prepared for the conference was on different research that has not yet been published. In that study, Dr. Haeusler and colleagues explored the interesting relationship between, bile acids, a group of molecules that help us digest and absorb fat in the intestine, and their impact on metabolic regulation.