Dr. Jennifer Stern joined the faculty at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson in the fall of 2018. She works in both the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, where she is an assistant professor of medicine, as well as the UA Health Sciences Center for Disparities in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. She earned her bachelor's degree in communication studies from Northwestern University and a master's degree in human nutrition from Arizona State University before completing a doctorate in nutritional biology from the University of California, Davis, in 2012.
Dr. Stern also completed additional training with National Institutes of Health funding as an R25 Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Arizona Cancer Center (2012-14), and T32 Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-15), F32 Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-17), and K99 Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-18) at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. The research focus for her CPC fellowship was on the role of sleep disturbance and sleep apnea in obesity-associated cancers. Her T32 and F32 fellowships focused on the role of glucagon signaling in type-2 diabetes. And her K99 fellowship looked at the role of glucagon signaling in healthspan and aging.
After earning her bachelor's degree, she served for three years as an outreach case coordinator for Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix (2000-03). Among other service outreach efforts, she served as a sports nutrition educator for the Milwaukee Brewers at spring training in Phoenix (2005), nutrition educator, St. Vincent DePaul Medical Clinic, Phoenix (2006), and Special Olympics swim coach (Team Davis), Davis, Calif. (2008).
Stern lab research aims to understand the role of glucagon signaling in the pathogenesis of obesity, type II diabetes mellitus, and aging.
Glucagon Signaling in Obesity and Type II Diabetes:
Insulin resistance and elevated insulin are key to the metabolic disturbances in type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Yet, elevated glucagon, common to diabetes, may be equally important in the metabolic abnormalities in T2DM. Dr. Stern has shown that nutritional state differentially affects glucagon secretion in obesity. In turn, the glucagon:insulin ratio is dysregulated in obesity. Current Stern lab research aims to understand the metabolic consequences of a dysregulated glucagon response to fasting and re-feeding.
Glucagon Signaling and Aging:
More than 25% of the U.S. population greater than 65 years old has Type II diabetes mellitus, representing the highest prevalence of diabetes of any age group. Most research aimed at understanding the consequences of obesity in aging have focused on insulin and downstream signaling cascades, overlooking a potential role for glucagon. Given that many prominent diabetes treatments target glucagon or glucagon signaling pathways, it is essential to understand the role of glucagon in aging. Stern lab research examines 1) the tissue specific effects of glucagon signaling, 2) the role of glucagon signaling in obesity-accelerated aging, and 3) the role of glucagon signaling in healthspan extension promoted by calorie restriction. This work will close a significant gap in our understanding of how glucagon alters aging, while allowing us to assess the potential risks associated with inhibition of glucagon signaling.
Other Stern Lab Research Foci:
- Sleep disturbance and metabolic dysfunction
- Obesity related cancer development and progression