Research Summary


Focus: Understanding diabetes and its complications

How does the brain respond to sweet taste?



IDC Director Dr. Robert Considine, who joined the IBRI in the fall of 2018, and his team continue to conduct research into better understanding diabetes and they are making progress on a number of fronts.

With funding from the American Diabetes Association, Dr. Considine’s lab team continues to investigate how the brain responds to sweet taste, and how this response changes following gastric bypass surgery. A reduction in subject preference for sweet taste following surgery has been reported, but the brain areas responsible for this effect are unknown.

Using magnetic resonance imaging and the administration of sucrose to the tongue, the investigative team is measuring the activation of brain areas, including the primary gustatory cortex and reward areas. These studies may lead to a non-surgical solution to reduce the consumption of sweetened high-calorie foods and beverages.

The health benefit of nut consumption

In collaboration with Dr. Richard Mattes, a leading nutrition scientist at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, Dr. Considine’s team is also studying the ingestion of almonds as a means to reduce blood sugar, which will determine if the health benefits of the nuts are driven by the presence of greater body fat in the abdominal or gluteal region.

A manuscript describing the findings of this two-year clinical trial will be published in 2019. This study continues a long-standing collaboration between Drs. Considine and Mattes, which has already yielded three publications on the health benefits of nut consumption.

Collaborations result in publications

Collaborations with investigators at the IU School of Medicine, Purdue University and University of Illinois-Chicago resulted in four publications in 2018 on a number of diabetes-related topics.

  • The first study examined the effects of GLP-1 on myocardial fuel selection. GLP-1 is a well-known hormone, produced in the small intestine, which stimulates insulin secretion and inhibits glucagon secretion. 
  • The second study examined the ability of oligomeric collagen encapsulation to increase the longevity of transplanted islets and thus to lower blood glucose in diabetic animals. 
  • The third study examined the contribution of inflammation to insulin resistance in polycystic ovarian syndrome. 
  • The fourth study found that non-nutritive sweeteners do not affect body weight and glycemia.

Lab Team

Robert Considine

Robert Considine, PhD

Administrative Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Robert Considine

Robert Considine, PhD

Administrative Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Robert V. Considine, Ph.D., joined the Division of Endocrinology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind., as an Assistant Professor in 1997 and was promoted to Professor in 2013. Prior to his appointment at the IU School of Medicine, he was on the faculty of the Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa., where he had completed his doctoral training.

Dr. Considine’s research is focused on understanding the contribution of obesity to the development of diabetes and its complications. In early work, his lab made seminal observations about the function of the adipose tissue hormone leptin in humans.  More recently, the Considine Lab has focused on the effects of bariatric surgery to alter gut hormone release and improve glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.  In collaboration with David Kareken, Ph.D., at the IU School of Medicine, Dr. Considine is also utilizing neuroimaging techniques to understand the reward system response to food cues in human subjects.  

Dr. Considine is currently the Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Diabetes Center at the IU School of Medicine, and oversees the Analyte Laboratory, which provides quantitation of adipokines, cytokines, gut peptides and hormones from human and animal samples.  He is also the Statewide Director for Endocrine and Reproductive Biology, a second-year course in the IU School of Medicine curriculum.