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Robert A. Mooney, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-8181

Fax: (585) 756-4468

Research Labs

Biography

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.

Research

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.

Credentials

Faculty Appointments

Education

1971
BS | Rensselaer Polytech Inst
Chemistry

1973
MA | Johns Hopkins U Sch Medicine
Biochemistry

1980
PhD | Johns Hopkins U Sch Medicine
Biochemistry

Publications

Journal Articles

1/2018
Wexler O, Gough MS, Morgan MA, Mack CM, Apostolakos MJ, Doolin KP, Mooney RA, Arning E, Bottiglieri T, Pietropaoli AP. "Methionine Metabolites in Patients With Sepsis." Journal of intensive care medicine.. 2018 Jan 0; 33(1):37-47. Epub 2016 Sep 02.

6/2017
Farnsworth CW, Schott EM, Jensen SE, Zukoski J, Benvie AM, Refaai MA, Kates SL, Schwarz EM, Zuscik MJ, Gill SR, Mooney RA. "Adaptive Upregulation of Clumping Factor A (ClfA) by Staphylococcus aureus in the Obese, Type 2 Diabetic Host Mediates Increased Virulence." Infection and immunity.. 2017 Jun 0; 85(6)Epub 2017 May 23.

2017
Dar QA, Schott EM, Catheline SE, Maynard RD, Liu Z, Kamal F, Farnsworth CW, Ketz JP, Mooney RA, Hilton MJ, Jonason JH, Prawitt J, Zuscik MJ. "Daily oral consumption of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory in murine posttraumatic osteoarthritis." PloS one. 2017 12(4):e0174705. Epub 2017 Apr 06.

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