Sarah Gray

Canada Research Chair in Integrative Physiology of Diabetes

Tier 2 - 2018-01-01
University of Northern British Columbia
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Research involves

Studying the pathophysiology (the functional changes that accompany a particular syndrome or disease) of obesity.

Research relevance

This research aims to reduce the burden of obesity and diabetes by developing integrative approaches to prevent obesity and its metabolic complications.

Uncovering the Link Between Obesity and Diabetes

One in four Canadians are obese—a situation that puts them at risk of developing chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, osteoarthritis and depression. Financially, the direct costs of obesity consume 9.1 per cent of national health care budgets globally. Novel strategies to reduce the prevalence of obesity must be developed to improve Canadians’ health and reduce the economic burden of obesity and its complications. 

While obesity and its complications are deemed largely preventable, they have proven to be too great a hurdle for people to overcome through lifestyle changes alone. Driven by a desire to better treat patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Sarah Gray, Canada Research Chair in Integrative Physiology of Diabetes, and her research team are working to unravel the biological processes that regulate body weight and energy metabolism.

The misconception that body weight is regulated purely by "willpower" was refuted in 1994 with the quintessential discovery that the adipose tissue-derived hormone, leptin, is a critical physiological regulator of body weight. This discovery established adipose tissue as a key player in regulating whole-body energy metabolism, and highlighted the strong influence of hormones in regulating body weight.

Gray and her team are building on this work, advancing our understanding of how hormones regulate adipose tissue function and contribute to the development of metabolic complications in obesity. The answers they uncover may identify novel targets for treating obesity and diabetes and have a positive impact on the health of patients and populations in Canada and beyond.