Invited Speakers

Sonia M. Najjar, PhD

Dr. Najjar earned a PhD degree in Physiology from Stanford Medical School in 1989, and carried out a post-doctoral fellowship in the Diabetes Branch at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) until July 1994. She then joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology at the former Medical College of Ohio, now known as the University of Toledo (UT) College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She rose up the academic ranks to become Full Professor in 2005. In January of 2006, she founded the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research (CeDER), bringing together several scientists with complementary expertise in emerging areas of metabolism and cardiovascular research. In February 2016, she was named Associate Dean of Research and Innovation in Ohio University College of Medicine at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Dr. Najjar’s research has delved into the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes, and the integrated physiology of insulin and lipid metabolism in liver. She is best known for identifying a key role for hepatic insulin clearance in regulating insulin action and fat metabolism, and how impaired insulin clearance in liver could cause insulin resistance, obesity, fatty liver disease, hypertension and atherosclerosis. As an authority in metabolism, she has authored more than 12 book chapters and 90 scientific articles, with several of them in leading medical journals such as Science, Nature Genetics, Cell Metabolism, J. Clinical Investigations, Gastroenterology, Diabetes, Diabetologia, and others. She has been invited to deliver seminar and keynote lectures across the globe. At the graduate education level, Dr. Najjar served as the first director of admissions of the Molecular Basis of Disease PhD program at the University of Toledo College of Medicine in 1996, until she served as its director from 2000 until 2006, at which point she shepherded its transformation into the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease PhD program in 2007. Thus far, Dr. Najjar has mentored 19 doctoral students in her laboratory and served on more than 60 PhD advisory committees at the University of Toledo College of Medicine. Dr. Najjar is a member of several professional societies. She has also served on the editorial board of several scientific journals and on several review panels in the US, Canada, Europe, Qatar and Hong Kong. In the US, she has served as ad hoc and standing member of several NIH study sections since 2001. Dr. Najjar’s research has continuously been funded by federal agencies, including the NIH (both the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease–NIDDK and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute–NHLBI), the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). She also mentored several of her trainees in receiving fellowships from ADA and the American Heart Association. Dr. Najjar has received numerous awards from the University of Toledo College of Medicine and in 2014, she received the YWCA Northwest Ohio Milestone award for Sciences in recognition of her service to the Toledo community.


David D'Alessio, MD 

 Dr. D'Alessio is Professor of Medicine at Duke University, Director of the Division of Endocrinology, and a staff physician at the Durham VA Medical Center. Dr D'Alessio has a primary research interest in the regulation of glucose tolerance and abnormalities that lead to type 2 diabetes. Work in his lab is directed at the interplay of circulating glucose, GI hormones and neural signals to control insulin secretion. The focus is the gut peptide GLP-1 and its role in normal physiology, type 2 diabetes and bariatric surgery. 

Henry N. Ginsberg, MD 

Dr. Ginsberg conducts research related to the regulation of the levels and metabolism of apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins, the lipoproteins carrying triglycerides and the bulk of cholesterol in blood. These include the atherogenic very low density and low density lipoproteins.

Dr. Ginsberg has a particular emphasis on the pathophysiology of hypertriglyceridemia and the dyslipidemia associated with insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus. Research is conducted at three levels: tissue culture using both human and rat hepatoma cells, transgenic mice, and human clinical studies. In cultured cells, Dr. Ginsberg and his associates have described the role of lipid substrate availability in determining if newly synthesized a of degradation and lipoprotein assembly of apoB. His group has characterized the role of the proteasome in the degradation of apoB. In transgenic mice, he had developed a model of insulin resistance and dylipidemia with many characteristics of the human disorder. This model, as well as others now in use in the lab, allow the group to dissect the important components of substrate availability and genetic control that lead to hypertriglyceridemia. Dr. Ginsberg's group makes and studies transgenic mice, conducting whole body, cellular, and molecular experiments.

In clinical studies, Dr. Ginsberg is investigating postprandial hyperlipidemia as a risk factor in patients with diabetes. He is also part of a group at Columbia that will be studying the role of glycemic, lipid and blood pressure control in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes. The latter, named the ACCORD trial, is a 10-year trial with 10,000 patients at 6 sites across the United States. Dr. Ginsberg also has a long record of research into the effects of diet on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in humans, and has conducted numerous controlled feeding studies in humans.