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Maren Laughlin, Ph.D.

Photo of Maren Laughlin
Energy balance, thermogenesis and mitochondria biology, whole body intermediary carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism, and functional and metabolic imaging in adipose, pancreas and other metabolic organs.

Responsibilities & Activities

As the program director for integrative metabolism, I am responsible for managing a research portfolio focused on life-sustaining chemical transformations within cells. Grants under this portfolio examine intermediary metabolism and physiology at the whole-body, organ, and cellular levels—particularly as they pertain to energy metabolism in diabetes, obesity, and chronic metabolic disease.  I serve as director for the Metabolism, Energy Balance, and Obesity program and manage a portfolio of studies that aim to understand insulin and leptin resistance, glycogen metabolism and glucose disposal, protein turnover rate and regulation, cellular and whole-body lipid fluxes, the interaction between carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, metabolism and inter-organ signaling roles of specific lipids, exercise, measurement and regulation of thermogenesis, and other processes.

I manage a portfolio of grants that employ in vivo functional and molecular imaging or spectroscopic techniques to visualize various aspects of diabetes and obesity, endocrinology, metabolism, and metabolic diseases. The program includes studies that focus on imaging pancreatic beta cell mass, perfusion, angiogenesis, inflammation, and function; peripheral vascular or nerve function in diabetes; inflammation in fat, skeletal muscle, and liver in obesity; mass and function of human brown adipose tissue; and indices of insulin resistance. I also serve as project scientist for the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Centers, which offer a range of tests that elucidate subtle to complex traits that characterize models of metabolic disease on a fee-for-service basis.

Along with colleagues from NIAMS, NIA and NIBIB, I coordinate the Common Fund sponsored Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Human (MoTrPAC). This is a multi-Center clinical study aimed at developing a molecular map of the molecules altered by physical activity in humans and thereby involved in the processes by which exercises improves health.

Research Programs

Bioengineering, Biotechnology, & Imaging as applied to Diabetes, Metabolic, & Endocrine Diseases
Cutting-edge technologies and integrated approaches that treat and elucidate the underlying mechanisms of endocrine and metabolic diseases, including diabetes.

Metabolic Pathways
Studies on the pathways that are involved in intermediary metabolism as they impact endocrine and metabolic diseases.

Metabolism, Energy Balance & Obesity
Basic studies in non-human animals related to the neural control of energy balance and weight gain, loss and maintenance.

Pathophysiology of Diabetes & Metabolic Disease
Basic and clinical research that addresses the pathophysiology of metabolic diseases, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Committees & Working Groups

  • Acting Co-Director, Office of Obesity Research