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

Research Interest

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


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Reciprocal regulation of osteocalcin transcription by the homeodomain proteins Msx2 and Dlx5.
Newberry EP, Latifi T, Towler DA Biochemistry 1998 Nov 37 46 16360-8
Reciprocal temporospatial patterns of Msx2 and Osteocalcin gene expression during murine odontogenesis.
Bidder M, Latifi T, Towler DA J. Bone Miner. Res. 1998 Apr 13 4 609-19
Stimulus-selective inhibition of rat osteocalcin promoter induction and protein-DNA interactions by the homeodomain repressor Msx2.
Newberry EP, Boudreaux JM, Towler DA J. Biol. Chem. 1997 Nov 272 47 29607-13
Structure-function analysis of Msx2-mediated transcriptional suppression.
Newberry EP, Latifi T, Battaile JT, Towler DA Biochemistry 1997 Aug 36 34 10451-62
Msx-2/Hox 8.1: a transcriptional regulator of the rat osteocalcin promoter.
Towler DA, Rutledge SJ, Rodan GA Mol. Endocrinol. 1994 Nov 8 11 1484-93
Mechanism of awareness of hypoglycemia. Perception of neurogenic (predominantly cholinergic) rather than neuroglycopenic symptoms.
Towler DA, Havlin CE, Craft S, Cryer P Diabetes 1993 Dec 42 12 1791-8
Disruption of the yeast N-myristoyl transferase gene causes recessive lethality.
Duronio RJ, Towler DA, Heuckeroth RO, Gordon JI Science 1989 Feb 243 4892 796-800
Myristoyl CoA:protein N-myristoyltransferase activities from rat liver and yeast possess overlapping yet distinct peptide substrate specificities.
Towler DA, Adams SP, Eubanks SR, Towery DS, Jackson-Machelski E, Glaser L, Gordon JI J. Biol. Chem. 1988 Feb 263 4 1784-90
The biology and enzymology of eukaryotic protein acylation.
Towler DA, Gordon JI, Adams SP, Glaser L Annu. Rev. Biochem. 1988 57 69-99
Purification and characterization of yeast myristoyl CoA:protein N-myristoyltransferase.
Towler DA, Adams SP, Eubanks SR, Towery DS, Jackson-Machelski E, Glaser L, Gordon JI Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1987 May 84 9 2708-12


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

  • 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)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • 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)