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  4. Robert Hanson, M.D., M.P.H.

Robert Hanson, M.D., M.P.H.

Professional Experience

  • Fellow, Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch, NIDDK, 1991–1993
  • Resident, Preventive Medicine, State University of New York-Stony Brook, 1989–1991
  • Resident, State University of New York-Stony Brook, 1986–1989
  • M.P.H., Columbia University, 1991
  • M.D., University of Kansas, 1986

Research Goal

The ultimate goal of this research is to understand the causes of diabetes, obesity, and diabetic complications and to understand the molecular processes that lead to these diseases.

Current Research

The Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch conducts research on the causes and correlates of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and diabetic complications. My research has focused on the epidemiology of these diseases, particularly on genetic and molecular aspects, in American Indian and other populations. Genetic and non-genetic risk factors for diabetes, obesity, and complications of diabetes are being studied using classical techniques of epidemiology. The potential genetic causes of these diseases are also studied using the techniques of genetic epidemiology, including studies of variants in DNA in families and in populations. Studies of epigenetics, gene transcription, protein expression, and cellular metabolism are also being pursued. The branch is studying the effect of lifestyle interventions to promote weight loss on prevention of diabetes and its complications.

Applying our Research

Some of the branch’s research consists of clinical trials that have direct clinical applications. The genomic and molecular research does not have an immediate clinical application, but through this research we hope to gain an understanding of the processes that lead to diabetes and related conditions. Ultimately, we hope that this knowledge will lead to better treatments and preventive strategies for these diseases.

Need for Further Study

The technology for studying the genetic and molecular aspects of diabetes is continuing to improve. The greatest challenges are to develop analytical methods that allow scientists to interpret the results from these technical advances and to ensure that diverse populations are included in genomic and molecular research.

Select Publications

The utility of a type 2 diabetes polygenic score in addition to clinical variables for prediction of type 2 diabetes incidence in birth, youth and adult cohorts in an Indigenous study population.
Wedekind LE, Mahajan A, Hsueh WC, Chen P, Olaiya MT, Kobes S, Sinha M, Baier LJ, Knowler WC, McCarthy MI, Hanson RL.
Diabetologia (2023 May) 66:847-860. Abstract/Full Text
Association of CREBRF variants with obesity and diabetes in Pacific Islanders from Guam and Saipan.
Hanson RL, Safabakhsh S, Curtis JM, Hsueh WC, Jones LI, Aflague TF, Duenas Sarmiento J, Kumar S, Blackburn NB, Curran JE, Mahkee D, Baier LJ, Knowler WC, Nelson RG.
Diabetologia (2019 Sep) 62:1647-1652. Abstract/Full Text
View More Publications

Research in Plain Language

The Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch researches the causes of and connections among type 2 diabetes, obesity, and diabetic complications. My research focuses on the frequency and prevalence of these diseases in American Indians and other populations. I mainly study the genetic and molecular aspects of these diseases. The branch studies potential genetic causes, such as possible DNA changes in families and populations. We also study

  • gene transcription, which is the process a cell uses to create a protein;
  • protein expression, which is the effect of a protein;
  • cellular metabolism, which is the sum of chemical reactions in a cell; and
  • how lifestyle changes that lead to weight loss can help prevent diabetes and its complication
Last Reviewed November 2023