Dr. Unger's lab is best known for its studies of islet physiology, in particular the elucidation of the roles of insulin and glucagon in the regulation of normal blood glucose homeostasis and in the pathogenesis of diabetes, and the establishment of glucagon as a hormone. It also established the "enteroinsular axis", and contributed to the physiology of islet somatostatin and the regulation of GLUT-2 expression in beta-cells. Recently his lab has introduced the concept of "lipotoxicity", the process by which overaccumulation of lipids in obesity in nonadipose tissues, for example, the pancreatic islets, leads to diabetes and, in other organs, to the metabolic syndrome. His group has demonstrated the role of leptin action in preventing fat-induced islet failure and metabolic syndrome. Dr. Unger has received the Banting Medal of the American Diabetes Association, the Rumbaugh Award of the Juvenile Diabetes Association, the Claude Bernard Medal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, and the Koch Award of the Endocrine Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was Director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research from 1986 until 2007. He is Professor of Internal Medicine and holds the Touchstone/West Distinguished Chair in Diabetes Research.
- Yale University (1944)
- Medical School
- Columbia University Central Office (1947)
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Regulation of fatty acid homeostasis in cells: Novel role of leptin
- Unger RH, Zhou Y-T, Orci L Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 1999 96 2327-2332
- Fatty acid-induced beta cell apoptosis: A link between obesity and diabetes
- Shimabukuro M, Zhou Y-T, Levi M, Unger RH Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 1998 95 2498-2502
- Glucagom: Role in the hyperglycemia of diabetes mellitus
- Dobbs RE, Sakurai H, Sasaki H, Faloona GR, Valverde I, Baetens D, Orci L, Unger RH Science 1975 187 544-547
- Glucagon physiology and pathophysiology
- Unger RH New England Journal of Medicine 1971 285 443-449
- Glucagon antibodies and an immunoassay for glucagon
- Unger RH, Eisentraut AM, McCall MS, Madison LL Journal of Clinical Investigation 1961 40 1280-1289
- Combined leptin actions on adipose tissue and hypothalamus are required to deplete adipocyte fat in lean rats: Implications for obesity treatment.
- Park BH, Wang MY, Lee Y, Yu X, Ravazzola M, Orci L, Unger RH Journal of Biological Chemistry December 2006 281 (52) 40283-91
- Adiposity of the heart, revisited.
- McGavock JM, Victor RG, Unger RH, Szczepaniak LS Annal of Internal Medicine April 2006 144(7) 517-524
- Movin’ on up: Adipocytes become regulators of nutrient homeostasis.
- Unger RH, Elmquist JK Cell Metabolism March 2006 3(3) 147-148
- Fat storage in adipocytes requires inactivation of leptin’s paracrine activity: Implications for treatment of human obesity.
- Wang MY, Orci L, Ravazzola M, Unger RH PNAS December 2005 102(50) 18011-6
- The Physiology of Cellular Liporegulation
- Unger RH Annual Review of Physiology 2003 65 333-347
Honors & Awards
- National Academy of Sciences
- Fred Conrad Koch Award
The Endocrine Society (1983)
- Claude Bernard Memorial Medal and Lectureship
European Association for the Study of Diabetes (1980)
- Banting Medal and Memorial Lectureship
Awarded by the American Diabetes Association for scientific achievement (1975)
- Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association
For outstanding research in the field of diabetes in North America (1964)
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- American College of Physicians
- American Diabetes Association
- American Medical Association
- National Academy of Sciences