The Boshell Research Program


At the Boshell Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research Program at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, we are seeking answers in the prevention, cure, and management of diabetes, metabolic diseases, and their complications.

Focus Areas

Enhancing the opportunities for diabetes research at Auburn University by facilitating cross-disciplinary scientific discussion, supporting the study of new ideas, fostering the development of investigators new to the field of diabetes, and expanding, the overall base of diabetes investigation at Auburn..

  • Cardiovascular Disease:  Diabetes is a significant risk factor in ≈ 70% of all heart failure-associated mortalities. This is primarily due to myocardial energy dysregulation associated with insulin resistance, which exacerbates the damage from a heart attack and transitions the diabetic heart to failure.  Boshell program research in this area is primarily focused on a better understanding of heart failure in diabetic and obese patients, and the utilization of novel therapeutic strategies to treat this.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease/Neurobiology:  Recent studies indicated that type 2 diabetes in midlife is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) later in life.  However, the underlying mechanism(s) remains unknown.  Boshell program research in this area is exploring the genes, molecules, and cellular processes that promote Alzheimer’s disease in obesity and type 2 diabetic patients. Using various physiologically relevant mouse models, cell lines and human postmortem brain tissues (in collaboration with Emory University), our goal is to discover novel agents to disrupt diabetes/obesity and Alzheimer’s disease axis.
  • Analytical/Technology:  The Analytical Core Group holds expertise in microfluidics, small-volume immunoassays, confocal microscopy and fluorescent and electrochemical analysis in secretory samples from cells and in human or animal serum.  Supported by the NIH since 2012, this Boshell program research is focused on the utilization of microfluidic systems to match the scale and environment of organized tissues directly related to diabetes and obesity, namely pancreatic islets and adipose tissue. Further integration of this microanalytical expertise with the Auburn University Metabolic Phenotyping Laboratory (AUMPL) is an important goal.  Overall, results show that our microanalytical systems, combined with small-volume compatible assays, provide the means to further improve our understanding of the dynamics of endocrine biology.
  • Nutrition/Metabolism: Faculty within the Boshell program at Auburn University are interesting in defining metabolically appropriate diets and what kinds of diets promote disease.  Diets, including the Mediterranean diet or diets using novel sources of omega 3 fatty acids, can be used both in animal and human research to promote health,  Alternatively, high fat/high sugar diets can be used to promote insulin resistance and obesity in animal models to explore various treatments and interventions.   A central theme of our research is the impact of diet-induced obesity on adipose tissue physiology, and how this newly recognized endocrine organ becomes dysfunctional during obesity development.  We are also investigating obesity-induced changes in the gut microbiome as a precipitating event in many obesity-related complications.  Utilizing both rodents models and humans (in collaboration with UAB), we are also investigating obesity-induced changes in hepatic fat accumulation and fibrosis.
  • Cancer:  Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. The pathophysiological states associated with obesity-linked metabolic disease are thought to contribute to the initiation and promotion of cancer.  Boshell program research is focused on better understanding the mechanistic basis underlying the link between obesity/metabolic disease and cancer, so that new therapeutic targets and the efficacy of therapeutic agents against obesity-linked cancer can be realized.

Auburn University Metabolic Phenotyping Laboratory

The Auburn University Metabolic Phenotyping Laboratory (AUMPL), under the leadership of Dr. Michael Greene, houses an eight cage Promethion Metabolic and Behavioral Phenotyping System purchased from Sable Systems Inc. Capabilities: Mouse or Rat Studies, Food and Water Uptake, Gas Exchange, RQ, Activity Monitoring, Body Mass and Water Loss.

Obesity Working Group

The Auburn University Food Science Initiative,  Obesity Working Group is comprised of experts from the Auburn community who specifically focus on obesity and the health-related concerns associated with it.  A numbers of Boshell faculty are members of this group, working with them on the sharing or research ideas and collaborating on various projects (

Diabetes/Obesity Resources

Resources for improving the life of all people with diabetes, including information on prevention, cure, and management of the disease and its complications.

Diabetes FAQ


What is type 2 diabetes?

endocrine logoType 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t use insulin properly. In type 2 diabetes, some people are insulin resistant, meaning that their body produces a lot of insulin but can’t use it effectively. Some people with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 is different from type 1 diabetes because in type 1, your body doesn’t produce any insulin at all.

Whether you’re insulin resistant or have too little insulin, the end result is the same in type 2 diabetes: your blood glucose level is too high.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes (also called type 2 diabetes mellitus) develop gradually—so gradually, in fact, that it’s possible to miss them or to not connect them as related symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Blurry vision

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes has several causes: genetics and lifestyle are the most important ones. A combination of these factors can cause insulin resistance, when your body doesn’t use insulin as well as it should. Insulin resistance is the most common cause of type 2 diabetes.

What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes has many risk factors associated with it, mostly related to lifestyle choices. But in order to develop insulin resistance (an inability for your body to use insulin as it should) and type 2 diabetes, you must also have a genetic abnormality. Along the same lines, some people with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin; that is also due to a genetic abnormality.

That is, not everyone can develop type 2 diabetes. Additionally, not everyone with a genetic abnormality will develop type 2 diabetes; these risk factors and lifestyle choices influence the development.

Other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Family history: Type 2 diabetes has a hereditary factor. If someone in your close family has (or had) it, you are more likely to develop it.
  • Race/ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.
  • Age: The older you are, the more at risk you are for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: If you developed diabetes while you were pregnant, that increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on.
  • Other health problems: High blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol (the “bad” LDL cholesterol) increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes complications. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

How is type 2 diabetes treated?

Type 2 diabetes is treated with a combination of healthy meal planning, physical activity, medications, and perhaps insulin.

Healthy meal planning changes and exercise are the cornerstones of type 2 diabetes treatment. They often help people lose weight, which in turn can help their bodies use insulin better. Many people, when they’re first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, are overweight (BMI >25), so making healthy lifestyle choices—such as reducing calories and portion sizes and being more active—can help them get to a healthier weight.

Are people with diabetes at higher risk for gum disease?American Diabetes Association Logo

Yes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease and other dental problems. Diabetes may weaken your mouth and body’s germ-fighting powers and high blood glucose levels can make gum disease worse. At the same time, gum disease may make blood glucose levels harder to control.

In addition to gum disease, what other oral health problems can develop for people with diabetes?

While gum disease is the most common problem, having diabetes also makes you prone to other mouth problems such as oral infections, thrush, poor healing and dry mouth. Remember, good dental care can result in a healthy mouth and a smile that will last a lifetime.

Will a poorly controlled blood glucose level have any affect on developing gum disease?

Yes. High blood glucose levels make gum disease get worse. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and make diabetes harder to control.

Should I tell my dentist and hygienist that I have diabetes?

Yes. People with diabetes have special needs. Keep your dentist and dental hygienist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication(s) you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control.

How do I know if I have serious gum disease?

Often there are no signs of serious gum disease. You may not know you have it until you have some serious damage. Regular dental visits are your best weapon.

What’s the first stage of gum disease?

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis and if ignored, can develop into the more severe form of gum disease, known as periodontitis. When this happens, you may need gum surgery to save your teeth.

What are the signs of gingivitis and/or serious gum disease?

Some of the possible signs of gingivitis and/or serious gum disease include:

  • Bleeding and red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth.
  • Pus between the teeth and gums (when you press on the gums)
  • Bad breath
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from each other
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite
  • Changes in the fit of partial dentures or bridges

If you have any of the above, see your dentist.

What percentage of adults get gingivitis and gum disease during their lives?

About 80% of adults will get gum disease at some point. It’s a lot more common than you think!

At what age does gum disease generally start?

Gum disease can start at any age. Children and teenagers who have diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease than those who don’t have diabetes.

How can I help prevent dental problems associated with diabetes?

First and foremost, control your blood glucose level. Then take good care of your teeth and gums, along with regular dental check-ups every six months.

Source: American Diabetes Association