The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences’ Dr. Jingbo Pi Publishes Report on Obesity and Diabetes

Associate Investigator is Lead Author of Article in Diabetes Journal on How Nrf2 Affects Development and Function of White Adipose Tissue

Research Triangle Park, NC, November 21, 2012 --( The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences ( has announced that Dr. Jingbo Pi, associate investigator, is lead author of a scientific report showing that nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a key oxidative stress signaling protein, is involved in the growth of fat stores in the body. This finding may have important consequences for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. The paper will appear in an upcoming edition of Diabetes, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association.

Over the past three years, Pi and his colleagues have studied fat growth in a specific mouse strain known as ob/ob. Although ob/ob mice become obese as they age, they do not develop diabetes. Pi’s group looked at the health of ob/ob mice that lacked Nrf2 within fat tissues and found that these mice had less fat and leaner bodies than regular ob/ob mice. Surprisingly, these mice did not exhibit normal metabolism and subsequently developed diabetes and other metabolic problems. This result reinforces that Nrf2 is a key protein involved in the body’s metabolic processes, and it is anticipated that a better understanding of its role will begin to be uncovered in future studies.

“I congratulate Dr. Pi on his efforts to understand the role of Nrf2 in fat metabolism. The publication in a high-visibility journal like Diabetes shows the potential importance of his work for understanding obesity and metabolic disease in people,” said Dr. William Greenlee, president and chief executive officer of The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. “Jingbo and his colleagues are doing cutting-edge work in translational biology, and his findings are likely to lead to new ways of thinking about how we treat these metabolic disorders.”

“Our research shows that Nrf2 has many functions in our bodies. My group is now working to find out how this protein regulates antioxidants, insulin signaling and diabetes,” said Dr. Pi. “We ultimately want to know whether there is a link between use of antioxidant supplements and the development of type II diabetes. We are also studying whether environmental oxidative stressors such as arsenic have a role in the increasing incidence of diabetes in the human population.”

- This is the second paper authored by Pi to appear in Diabetes.

- For more information about Diabetes, visit

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About The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences:
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences is a nonprofit translational biomedical research institute located on an open, multidisciplinary campus in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Building upon 35 years of research excellence in toxicology, The Hamner works on drug and chemical safety in collaboration with academic, corporate, and government partners. Novel technologies used at The Hamner include genomic and bioinformatic approaches for improving toxicity testing, in silico models for predictive toxicology, in vitro models that utilize human cells or cell lines to evaluate perturbations of cellular responses, and in vivo models to elucidate genes that play a role in susceptibility to drug-induced toxicities. For more information, visit

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