Dr. Towler obtained his medical degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Washington University, St. Louis, where his thesis work focused upon protein modification by covalent fatty acid acylation (N-myristoylation). He completed his medical residency and endocrine / metabolism fellowship at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, and is a board-certified internist and endocrinologist.  Dr. Towler brings to UTSW expertise in the endocrine physiology of bone and vascular disease that synergizes with our Institution’s strengths in patient-oriented, bench-to-bedside translational research.  Before joining UT Southwestern, Towler was the Lang Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Lipid Research at Washington University and also served as Chief, Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases for a decade.  In addition to his career in academic medicine, Towler spent four years in the pharmaceutical industry, and is co-inventor of novel, patented selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) with potential clinical applications in treatment of musculoskeletal frailty. His clinical interests emphasize the diagnosis and treatment of bone and mineral disorders.  Dr. Towler is currently the Principal Investigator for two active Research Project Grants (R01) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that delineate the hormonal regulation of arterial calcification (hardening of the arteries) in diabetes as relevant to musculoskeletal disease and lower limb amputation risk. Dr. Towler’s research has been recognized by the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation (1996), the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (Fuller Albright Award 2000), and the American Society for Clinical Investigation (elected in 2004).  He currently serves on the editorial boards of Circulation Research and Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.  A former regular member of the NIH Skeletal Biology Development and Disease (2004-2008) and Atherosclerosis and Inflammation of the Cardiovascular System Study Sections (2010-2014), he now serves as a member of the External Advisory Panel to the Illuminating the Druggable Genome Consortium for the NIH Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS; 2014- present).  Dr. Towler’s interests outside of biomedicine include his family, kayaking, and fly fishing. 


Medical School
Washington University in St. Louis (1989)
Washington University/Barnes Hospital (1991), Internal Medicine
Washington University/Barnes Hospital (1992), Metabolism

Specialty Areas

Clinical Interest

  • Calcium Disorders
  • Cancer & Bone Health
  • Diabetic Bone Disease
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Mineral & Bone Disorders of Chronic Kidney Disease/CKD-MBD
  • Osteoporosis
  • Research Interest

    • Bone and Mineral Disease
    • Cardiovascular calcification
    • Protein Arginine Methylation / Demethylation
    • Transcriptional regulation
    • Wnt signaling


    Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

    Vascular Smooth Muscle LRP6 Limits Arteriosclerotic Calcification in Diabetic LDLR-/- Mice by Restraining Noncanonical Wnt Signals.
    Cheng SL, Ramachandran B, Behrmann A, Shao JS, Mead M, Smith C, Krchma K, Bello Arredondo Y, Kovacs A, Kapoor K, Brill LM, Perera R, Williams BO, Towler DA Circ. Res. 2015 Jun
    Arteriosclerosis, bone biology, and calciotropic hormone signaling: learning the ABCs of disease in the bone-vascular axis.
    Towler DA J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 2015 Feb 26 2 243-5
    Targeted reduction of vascular Msx1 and Msx2 mitigates arteriosclerotic calcification and aortic stiffness in LDLR-deficient mice fed diabetogenic diets.
    Cheng SL, Behrmann A, Shao JS, Ramachandran B, Krchma K, Bello Arredondo Y, Kovacs A, Mead M, Maxson R, Towler DA Diabetes 2014 Dec 63 12 4326-37
    Mitochondrial ROS deficiency and diabetic complications: AMP[K]-lifying the adaptation to hyperglycemia.
    Towler DA J. Clin. Invest. 2013 Nov 123 11 4573-6
    Dkk1 and MSX2-Wnt7b signaling reciprocally regulate the endothelial-mesenchymal transition in aortic endothelial cells.
    Cheng SL, Shao JS, Behrmann A, Krchma K, Towler DA Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 2013 Jul 33 7 1679-89
    Arterial calcification and bone physiology: role of the bone-vascular axis.
    Thompson B, Towler DA Nat Rev Endocrinol 2012 Sep 8 9 529-43
    Vascular calcification and aortic fibrosis: a bifunctional role for osteopontin in diabetic arteriosclerosis.
    Shao JS, Sierra OL, Cohen R, Mecham RP, Kovacs A, Wang J, Distelhorst K, Behrmann A, Halstead LR, Towler DA Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 2011 Aug 31 8 1821-33
    Activation of vascular smooth muscle parathyroid hormone receptor inhibits Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and aortic fibrosis in diabetic arteriosclerosis.
    Cheng SL, Shao JS, Halstead LR, Distelhorst K, Sierra O, Towler DA Circ. Res. 2010 Jul 107 2 271-82
    Runx2 trans-activation mediated by the MSX2-interacting nuclear target requires homeodomain interacting protein kinase-3.
    Sierra OL, Towler DA Mol. Endocrinol. 2010 Jul 24 7 1478-97
    Inflammation and the osteogenic regulation of vascular calcification: a review and perspective.
    Shao JS, Cheng SL, Sadhu J, Towler DA Hypertension 2010 Mar 55 3 579-92


    Featured Books Legend Featured Books

    Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Medicine. In Vitamin D

    Towler DA and Clemens T (2005). San Diego, CA, Elsevier

    Physiological Actions of PTH and PTHrP: Vascular, Cardiovascular, and CNS Biology. In The Parathyroids: Basic and Clinical Concepts (3rd Edition)

    Towler, DA (2015). London, UK, Elsevier / Academic Press

    Vitamin D: Cardiovascular Effects and Vascular Calcification. In Vitamin D (3rd Edition)

    Towler, DA (2011). San Diego, USA, Elsevier / Academic Press

    Vascular Disease and the Skeleton. In Primer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases & Disorders of Mineral Metabolism (8th Edition)

    Towler, DA (2013). Hoboken, NJ, Wiley-Blackwell

    Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Osteogenic-Angiogenic Coupling. In Principles of Bone Biology, 3rd Ed.

    Towler DA (2008). San Diego, CA, Academic Press

    Honors & Awards

    • J.D. and Maggie E. Wilson Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Internal Medicine - Division of Endocrinology
      Endowed Chair (2015)
    • University of Texas System Faculty STARS Program Award, UT Southwestern Medical Center
      Translational Research Award (2015)
    • Guest Editor, Circulation Research Series of Pathobiology of Calcific Vasculopathy and Valvulopathy
      Invited Guest Editor (2011)
    • The 12th Annual John G. Haddad, Jr., MD Memorial Lecture, University of Pennsylvania
      Honorary Visiting Lectureship (2009)
    • Bayard D. Catherwood Lecturer and Visiting Professor, Emory University
      Honorary Visiting Lectureship (2006)
    • Elected, American Society for Clinical Investigation
      Physician-Scientist Honorary Society (2004)
    • Ira M. Lang Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center
      Endowed Chair (2004-2012)
    • Fuller Albright Award, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
      Young Investigator Award (2000)
    • Charles E. Culpeper Medical Science Scholar
      Career Development Award (1996-1999)

    Professional Associations/Affiliations

    • American Society for Clinical Investigation (2004)
    • American Heart Association (2003)
    • The Endocrine Society (1995)
    • American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (1993)