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Congressman Vicente Gonzalez

Representing the 15th District of Texas

Congressman Gonzalez Announces More Than $140,000 in Federal Funds for Inflammation and Insulin Resistance Research at UTRGV

May 10, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) announced that the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has awarded $143,300 in federal funding to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. Funding will be used to examine how cellular proteins in white blood cells impact inflammatory responses in skeletal muscle and better understand the connection between inflammatory responses and insulin resistance, which is a major determinant in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

Dr. Sara Reyna, Assistant Professor of Research and principal investigator for the study, is spearheading this effort to further understand the mechanisms that lead to insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Insulin resistance is considered the most powerful predictor of T2DM. When cells build a tolerance to insulin, less glucose is absorbed into cells and more remains in the bloodstream. Because T2DM affects nearly 30 percent of residents across the Rio Grande Valley, understanding and combating incidence of the disease is a top priority.

“The medical research conducted at UTRGV consistently provides insight into critical illnesses that affect not only the 15th District of Texas, but the entire nation,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “I am pleased to see Dr. Reyna, and the rest of the research community at UTRGV, receive federal funding for innovative, groundbreaking research that will ultimately improve quality of life.”

“We propose to use an animal model which does not have these cellular proteins in its white blood cells and determine whether deficiency of these cellular proteins will improve insulin sensitivity and protect from the development of skeletal muscle inflammation and insulin resistance,” Dr. Reyna said. “Our approach allows us to discover new molecular mechanisms in white blood cells, linking inflammation of skeletal muscle and insulin resistance. Our proposed studies also will contribute new knowledge in understanding cellular signaling mechanisms associated with the development and progression of insulin resistance and T2DM and can lead to the discovery of new treatments for many chronic inflammatory illnesses.”

Funding for the project began on May 1, 2018 and will continue through March 31, 2019.