Obesity and Related Diseases Cluster

Obesity and Related Diseases Cluster (ORDRC) - Coordinator, Jung Han Kim, PhD

In our modern era, the incidence of obesity has reached epidemic proportions, where over 30% of American adults and 17% of children and teens are obese. In 2017, WV ranked highest for obesity in the U.S. Many obese individuals suffer from related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia, leading to a decreased life span. This association of obesity with related metabolic diseases makes obesity a priority public health issue.

Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
PHS 666 Physiology of the Cell  3
BMR 664 Obesity and Related Diseases Colloquium (x3) 3

Qualifying Exam 

  • Written - Syllabus suggested by the Ph.D. Committee Members. 
  • Oral Steps 
    • Students must first complete a written exam. 
    • A written grant in the style of an NIH Pre-doctoral grant proposal format must be submitted on either the student’s research project or another topic.
    • The grant must be submitted within two months of completion of the written exam.
    • The Oral examination is a defense of the grant application.
  • Dissertation Defense 

Other Activities include attending one or more national scientific meetings to present the results of their research. 

Required Research Cluster Courses
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
BMR 664 Obesity and Related Diseases Colloquium  1
Suggested Electives
PHS 667 Experimental Approaches to Physiology  4
PHS 666 Physiology of the Cell  4
BMR 665 Cardiovascular Disease Colloquium 1

Students will need to successfully pass their MS Comprehensive Examination and defend their thesis. 


Research Faculty

Research Interests 

Ji Bihl, Ph.D.   Cerebrovascular Diseases and Diabetes
Alejandro Q. Nato, Jr., PhD  Identification of the genetic basis of complex diseases 
Jinju Wang  Exercise-intervened exosomes in cerebrovascular diseases
Subha Arthur, Ph.D.  Regulation of bile acid absorption in obesity 
Travis Salisbury, Ph.D.  Leucine-stimulated induction of mTOR1 in breast cancer in obesity 
Maria Serrat, Ph.D.  Regulation of growth factor transport in bone elongation in childhood obesity 
Jung Han Kim, Ph.D.  Genetics of obesity and type 2 diabetes 
Nalini Santanam, Ph.D.  Diet, Exercise, obesity drugs on cardiometabolic endpoints
Emine Koc, Ph.D.  Role of mitochondria in obesity disorders
Holly Cyphert, Ph.D. Molecular regulation of beta cell function 
Jim Denvir, Ph.D. Application of multiple hypothesis testing procedures to high-throughout genomic data
Hongwei Yu, Ph.D.  Microbiome in obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease 
Wei Li, MD, Ph.D.  Role of thymidine phosphorylase in the development of chronic diseases, atherosclerotic and thrombotic cardiovascular diseases
Umapathy Sundaram, MD Nutrition, inflammatory bowel disease