Friday, May 15, 2015
E. Dale Abel
E. Dale Abel

E. Dale Abel, director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa, has been awarded two grants totaling $4 million from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to study the connection between diabetes, obesity, and heart failure.

Diabetes increases the risk for heart failure by up to six-fold. Obesity also increases the risk of developing heart failure. Abel and his colleagues will investigate the biological mechanisms that drive this increased risk.

Working in collaboration with Kevin Xiang at the University of California Davis, Abel's team will study the connection between high levels of insulin, a common feature of type 2 diabetes, and heart failure.

Abel and Xiang previously found that high levels of insulin disrupt a signaling pathway called beta-adrenergic receptor signaling that plays an important role in regulating heart contraction. Using a four-year, $1.6 million grant, the team will determine how these pathways are changed by obesity and examine if such changes alter the effectiveness of commonly used heart failure drugs in obese patients.

The second study, funded by a four-year, $2.4 million grant, will involve Abel, Xiang, and Bret Goodpaster at the Sanford Burnham Institute and the Florida Hospital. Building on Abel's and Xiang's earlier findings about the interaction between insulin signaling and beta-receptor signaling, this study will directly test the potential of newly identified drug targets for reducing the risk of heart failure in people with diabetes.