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Robert A. Mooney, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-8181

Fax: (585) 756-4468

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments


Director of the Biochemical Genetics Laboratory. Director of the Point-of-Care Testing Section. Co-Director of the Pathways of Human Disease Ph.D. Program in Pathology. Dr. Mooney also serves as the Director of Clinical Laboratories at Monroe Community Hospital and has served as Director of the Hemaglobinopathy Laboratory in the Department of Medicine.


Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate in the industrialized world. This is a serious health concern because there is a strong association between obesity and insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Our lab is particularly interested in the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes currently afflicts 6-7% of the U.S. population. It is characterized by defective insulin action (insulin resistance) leading to poor control of blood glucose (sugar) levels. The disease can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage. Sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits leading to obesity are contributing to the increased incidence of diabetes at all ages.

It has now become apparent that obesity-dependent insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes have characteristics of a chronic inflammatory state. This link between inflammation and insulin resistance is the focus of our lab. In one area of our work, we are testing the hypothesis that cytokines (particularly interleukin-6) contribute to inhibition of insulin receptor signaling in target tissues leading to insulin resistance. Consistent with this model, IL-6 levels are 2-3 times higher in the blood of diabetics than controls. We have demonstrated that a family of regulatory proteins, SOCS (Suppressors of Cytokine Signaling) proteins, are induced by IL-6 and other inflammatory cytokines in liver cells. SOCS proteins appear to bind to the components of the insulin receptor signaling pathway and inhibit insulin action. Thus, we propose the inflammatory environment of obesity increases expression of SOCS3 leading to insulin resistance. We are currently testing this model of obesity-dependent insulin resistance at the cellular level and with experimental animals.

The obese, type 2 diabetic has twice the risk of osteoarthritis when compared to a non-obese, non-diabetic individual. The traditional explanation for this risk is the increased bio-mechanical stress on the joint as a consequence of increased body weight. In another area of our lab's research, we have proposed an alternate explanation that attributes at least some of the progression of osteoarthritis in this population to metabolic dysregulation and chronic inflammation that is a hallmark of obesity-mediated diabetes. Recent investigations in our lab using diet-induced obese mice have provided experimental evidence to support a metabolic component to accelerated osteoarthritis progression in obesity-mediated diabetes. Ongoing investigations with genetic and dietary mouse models as well as in vitro models are being employed to define the metabolic pathways that are involved. Therapeutic modalities are also being investigated.



BS | Rensselaer Polytech Inst

MA | Johns Hopkins U Sch Medicine

PhD | Johns Hopkins U Sch Medicine


Journal Articles

Farnsworth CW, Schott EM, Benvie A, Kates SL, Schwarz EM, Gill SR, Zuscik MJ, Mooney RA. "Exacerbated Foot Infections in Obese/Diabetic Mice Are Associated with Impaired Germinal Center Reactions, Ig Class Switching, and Humoral Immunity." The Journal of immunology : official journal of the American Association of Immunologists.. 2018 Jul 15; 201(2):560-572. Epub 2018 Jun 01.

Farnsworth CW, Schott EM, Benvie AM, Zukoski J, Kates SL, Schwarz EM, Gill SR, Zuscik MJ, Mooney RA. "Obesity/type 2 diabetes increases inflammation, periosteal reactive bone formation, and osteolysis during Staphylococcus aureus implant-associated bone infection." Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society.. 2018 Jun 0; 36(6):1614-1623. Epub 2018 Jan 03.

Schott EM, Farnsworth CW, Grier A, Lillis JA, Soniwala S, Dadourian GH, Bell RD, Doolittle ML, Villani DA, Awad H, Ketz JP, Kamal F, Ackert-Bicknell C, Ashton JM, Gill SR, Mooney RA, Zuscik MJ. "Targeting the gut microbiome to treat the osteoarthritis of obesity." JCI insight.. 2018 Apr 19; 3(8)Epub 2018 Apr 19.