Molecular Drivers of Arsenic Induced Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, has no cure, and is associated with several other debilitating medical conditions. Environmental exposures, such as those from inorganic arsenic, are understudied in the context of diabetes research, where the historical focus has been on genetics, diet, and physical exercise. As such, the mechanisms by which toxicants such as arsenic can induce diabetes remain poorly understood. We are investigating the role of specific microRNAs and transcription factors as molecular markers and drivers of inorganic arsenic associated type 2 diabetes.

Pictured is an outdoor faucet with water coming out of it.

Inorganic arsenic is a common drinking water and food contaminant shown to be associated with metabolic disorder/type 2 diabetes.

Our project aims to bridge this knowledge gap by leveraging state-of-the-art genomic technologies, including chromatin run-on followed by high throughput sequencing (ChRO-seq), to enable the in-depth study of chromatin and transcriptional regulatory dynamics in response to environmental exposure. In addition, the translational design of this project, integrating analysis of human clinical samples, in vivo mouse models, and in vitro cell-based systems, will inform the design of future epidemiologic and interventional studies of arsenic-associated diabetes.

The findings from this research will help us understand the mechanisms underlying this disease and will lay important groundwork for future investigations into potential diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for diabetes prevention.


Praveen Sethupathy

Dr. Praveen Sethupathy

Praveen Sethupathy, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
Cornell University

Dr. Miroslav Styblo

Dr. Miroslav Styblo

Mirek Styblo, PhD
Professor, Department of Nutrition
Gillings School of Global Public Health
UNC-Chapel Hill


Dr. Rebecca Fry

Dr. Rebecca Fry

Rebecca Fry, PhD
The Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor in Children’s Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Gillings School of Global Public Health
UNC-Chapel Hill

Fei Zou

Dr. Fei Zou

Fei Zou, PhD
Professor, Department of Biostatistics
Gillings School of Global Public Health
UNC-Chapel Hill

Director: Rebecca Fry, PhD
Deputy Director: Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Funding provided by NIEHS grant #P42 ES031007

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