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), the American Society for Clinical Investigation (elected in 2004), and the Association of American Physicians (elected in 2020). 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.
- Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine (1989)
- Washington University/Barnes Hospital (1991), Internal Medicine
- Washington University/Barnes Hospital (1992), Metabolism
- Bone and Mineral Disease
- Cardiovascular calcification
- Protein Arginine Methylation / Demethylation
- Transcriptional regulation
- Wnt signaling
- Aortic Msx2-Wnt calcification cascade is regulated by TNF-alpha-dependent signals in diabetic Ldlr-/- mice.
- Al-Aly Z, Shao JS, Lai CF, Huang E, Cai J, Behrmann A, Cheng SL, Towler DA Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 2007 Dec 27 12 2589-96
- An osteopontin-NADPH oxidase signaling cascade promotes pro-matrix metalloproteinase 9 activation in aortic mesenchymal cells.
- Lai CF, Seshadri V, Huang K, Shao JS, Cai J, Vattikuti R, Schumacher A, Loewy AP, Denhardt DT, Rittling SR, Towler DA Circ. Res. 2006 Jun 98 12 1479-89
- Msx2 promotes cardiovascular calcification by activating paracrine Wnt signals.
- Shao JS, Cheng SL, Pingsterhaus JM, Charlton-Kachigian N, Loewy AP, Towler DA J. Clin. Invest. 2005 May 115 5 1210-20
- MINT, the Msx2 interacting nuclear matrix target, enhances Runx2-dependent activation of the osteocalcin fibroblast growth factor response element.
- Sierra OL, Cheng SL, Loewy AP, Charlton-Kachigian N, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 2004 Jul 279 31 32913-23
- Teriparatide (human parathyroid hormone (1-34)) inhibits osteogenic vascular calcification in diabetic low density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice.
- Shao JS, Cheng SL, Charlton-Kachigian N, Loewy AP, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 2003 Dec 278 50 50195-202
- MSX2 promotes osteogenesis and suppresses adipogenic differentiation of multipotent mesenchymal progenitors.
- Cheng SL, Shao JS, Charlton-Kachigian N, Loewy AP, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 2003 Nov 278 46 45969-77
- Osteopontin transcription in aortic vascular smooth muscle cells is controlled by glucose-regulated upstream stimulatory factor and activator protein-1 activities.
- Bidder M, Shao JS, Charlton-Kachigian N, Loewy AP, Semenkovich CF, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 2002 Nov 277 46 44485-96
- Regulation of osteocalcin gene expression by a novel Ku antigen transcription factor complex.
- Willis DM, Loewy AP, Charlton-Kachigian N, Shao JS, Ornitz DM, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 2002 Oct 277 40 37280-91
- The RRM domain of MINT, a novel Msx2 binding protein, recognizes and regulates the rat osteocalcin promoter.
- Newberry EP, Latifi T, Towler DA Biochemistry 1999 Aug 38 33 10678-90
- Diet-induced diabetes activates an osteogenic gene regulatory program in the aortas of low density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice.
- Towler DA, Bidder M, Latifi T, Coleman T, Semenkovich CF J. Biol. Chem. 1998 Nov 273 46 30427-34
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
- Association of American Physicians
Physician-Scientist Honorary Society (2020)
- Louis V. Avioli Professorship in Mineral Metabolism Research
- 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)
- 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)
- Association of American Physicians (2020)
- American Society for Clinical Investigation (2004)
- American Heart Association (2003)
- The Endocrine Society (1995)
- American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (1993)