The major research focus in the Woo laboratory is to elucidate molecular mechanisms that determine pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which are well known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Our research interests include explaining mechanisms of islet apoptosis and survival in physiological and diabetic states. We are investigating many of the fundamental genes that are involved in cell survival and apoptosis, such as caspases, tumour suppressors and oncogenes. Many of these fundamental genes have essential physiological roles in metabolic tissues such as liver, muscle, adipose tissue, and the pancreatic islets. The roles of many of the fundamental genes are highly context dependent and are specific for the tissue in which they function. Using genetically engineered mice, we examine the whole body physiology as well as take biological, biochemical and molecular approaches to define physiological roles in specific tissues, in addition to defining its potential pathogenic role in diabetes. We also study the role of insulin resistance in cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These approaches to clarify tissue-specific molecular mechanisms have wide implications for better understanding and treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as its relationships to cancer and cardiovascular development.
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Immunology and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto
Head, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Canada Research Chair in Signal Transduction in Diabetes Pathogenesis