The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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Faculty and Staff

Nutritional and Metabolic Biology Doctoral Training Faculty

F. Xavier Pi-SunyerF. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, M.D.

Professor of Medicine



B.A. 1955, Oberlin College
M.D. 1959, Columbia University
M.P.H. 1963, Harvard University 

Research Interests

Dr. Pi-Sunyer's research is directed at understanding the metabolic antecedents of obesity.  Studies are in progress exploring the relationship of thermogenic responses (at rest, and to food or to exercise) to the development and maintenance of obesity.  Aspects of food intake regulation in humans are being investigated, including the effects of exercise and gut peptides such as bombesin and cholecystokinin.  Specific attention is now being focused on hormonal and other factors contributing to obesity in women, and potential differences between ethnic groups.  In order to understand health risks associated with upper body fat distribution, studies of several aspects of metabolism of fat cells from different body sites and their relationship to sex hormones are being pursued.  Investigation of determinants of insulin resistance is being carried out with emphasis on differential contribution of obesity, fat distribution, and other variables.  This includes studies on whole body glucose disposal, and in vitro studies of isolated muscle and fat cells.  The effect of exercise on lipolysis, and on isolated fat cell metabolism is being investigated.  An extensive research program in human body composition is under way.  Present interest is in the use of the four compartment (water, protein, mineral, and fat) model to study fat, proteins, and bone mineral changes that occur with weight loss in pre- and post-menopausal women.

Recent Publications - Pubmed

Aleman-Mateo H, Lee SY, Javed F, Thornton J, Heymsfield SB, Pierson RNJr, Pi-Sunyer FX, Wang ZM, Wang J, Gallagher D. Elderly Mexicans have less muscle and greater total and truncal fat compared to African-Americans and Caucasians with the same BMI. J Nutr Health and Aging, 2009.

Berk ES, Johnson JA, Lee MJ, Zhang K, Boozer CN, Pi-Sunyer FX, Fried SK, Albu JB. Higher post-absorptive skeletal muscle LPL-activity during controlled low-fat diet in African-American vs. Caucasian pre-menopausal women. Obesity 16: 199-201, 2008.

Look AHEAD Research Group, Pi-Sunyer X, et al. Reduction in weight and cardiovascular disease risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes: one-year results of the LookAHEAD trial. Diabetes Care. 30:1374-83 2007.

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