Biography

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 projects supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Diabetes Association, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. His  research focuses upon Wnt signaling in arterial calcification (hardening of the arteries) and associated protein arginine methylation/deimination regulatory relays as potential therapeutic targets in aortic and peripheral artery disease. 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 board of 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 also served 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- 2016).  

Dr. Towler’s interests outside of biomedicine include his family, kayaking, and fly fishing. 

Education

Medical School
Washington University School of Medicine (1989)
Residency
Washington University/Barnes Hospital (1991), Internal Medicine
Fellowship
Washington University/Barnes Hospital (1992), Metabolism

Research Interest

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

Publications

Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

A GTPase-activating protein binding protein (G3BP1) / antiviral protein relay conveys arteriosclerotic Wnt signals in aortic smooth muscle cells.
Ramachandran B, Stabley JN, Cheng SL, Behrmann AS, Gay A, Li L, Mead M, Kozlitina J, Lemoff A, Mirzaei H, Chen Z, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 2018 Apr
Wnt signaling in cardiovascular disease: opportunities and challenges.
Gay A, Towler DA Curr. Opin. Lipidol. 2017 Jul
Arterial Calcification in Diabetes Mellitus: Preclinical Models and Translational Implications.
Stabley JN, Towler DA Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 2017 Feb 37 2 205-217
Commonalities Between Vasculature and Bone: An Osseocentric View of Arteriosclerosis.
Towler DA Circulation 2017 Jan 135 4 320-322
Nutrition in Cardioskeletal Health.
Hill Gallant KM, Weaver CM, Towler DA, Thuppal SV, Bailey RL Adv Nutr 2016 May 7 3 544-55
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

Books

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)