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W. Timothy Garvey, M.D.

W. Timothy Garvey, M.D.
Department of Nutrition Sciences
School of Health Professions
Senior Scientist
Nutrition Obesity Research Center

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Garvey is Professor of Medicine in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He obtained his MD degree, cum laude, from St. Louis University in 1978, and completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital, Washington University, in 1981. He then was a clinical fellow in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. He subsequently held faculty posts at the University of California, School of Medicine (Assistant Professor), Indiana University School of Medicine (Associate and full Professor), and from 1994 to 2003 was the Director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Medical Genetics at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Garvey moved to UAB on June 1, 2004.

Dr. Garvey has achieved international recognition for his research in the metabolic, molecular, and genetic pathogenesis of insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, and obesity. His studies have involved the cellular and molecular biology of cell and animal models, metabolic investigations of human subjects on metabolic research wards, and the genetic basis of diseases in Gullah-speaking African Americans, Pima Indians, and national cohorts of diabetes patients. He has brought basic technology directly to the study of human patients, and the combined approach of human physiology, genetics, and basic cell and molecular biology has provided the laboratory with a flexible capability for hypothesis testing relevant to human disease. By studying molecular parameters and differential gene expression in muscle and fat tissue from metabolically characterized individuals, the Garvey laboratory has made important observations regarding the pathogenesis of human insulin resistance. He has been a principle contributor to our understanding of the role of the glucose transport system and glucose transporter proteins in human insulin resistance. The laboratory has also identified a polymorphisms in the uncoupling protein 3 gene as a "thrifty gene" and susceptibility gene for severe obesity in African Americans. He also served as the PI of an NIH-funded Program Project to study markers and mechanisms of diabetes vascular complications in collaboration with two national trial cohorts. Dr. Garvey has directed an independent laboratory since 1987 supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK, NHLBI), the Department of Veterans Affairs, the AHA, JDFI, the ADA, and other agencies. Dr. Garvey also has a track record of community based research and outreach in the context of two initiatives, Project Sugar (a genetics study among Gullah-speaking African Americans) and MUSC/HBCU Partners in Wellness (a program in community health at 6 historically black colleges and universities in SC intended to challenge minority students towards careers in the health professions).

He has provided service as a member of national research review committees for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, the VA Merit Review Program, and the National Institutes of Health. He was a standing member of the Metabolism Study Section at NIH from 1998-2002, and has chaired several ad hoc NIH study sections. Dr. Garvey currently serves on the editorial boards of Diabetes, and has previously served in this capacity for the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and Diabetes Reviews. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Endocrine Society, and the American Diabetes Association, and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity.


- Professor of Medicine, Department of Nutrition Sciences
- Staff Physician, Birmingham VA Medical Center
- Attending Physician, UAB Hospitals
- Associate Director, Nutrition Obesity Research Center
- Investigator, GRECC and the UAB Center for Aging
- Member, GCRC Scientific Advisory Committee
- Graduate School Faculty

Research Interests

The Garvey laboratory is interested in the molecular, metabolic, and genetic basis of type 2 diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, and obesity. Studies involve cellular and molecular biology of cell and animal models, metabolic investigations of human subjects on a clinical research ward, and genetic epidemiology. The combined approach of human physiology, genetics, and basic cell and molecular biology provides the laboratory with a flexible and powerful capability for hypothesis testing relevant to human disease. Principal research activities include:

  • Role of GLUT 4 glucose transporters and the glucose transport system in insulin resistance. This work utilizes cultured cell, animal models, and humans (in vivo metabolic studies and ex vivo studies of tissues) as model systems, and tests hypotheses relating to abnormalities in GLUT gene expression and cellular trafficking of GLUT4-containing vesicles.
  • Molecular Mechanisms of Human Insulin Resistance. The laboratory systematically identifies differential gene expression in muscle and fat from insulin sensitive, insulin resistant, and Type 2 Diabetic patients using cDNA microarrays and proteomics. The contribution of selected novel genes/proteins in cell biology and metabolism is investigated using a variety of methodologies including gene hyperexpression/knock-out in cultured cells and mice.
  • Molecular and Metabolic Defects Impairing Lipid Oxidation in Insulin Resistance. These studies feature application of NMR and metabolomic approaches, with a special focus on mitochondrial function, to explain defective lipid oxidation and lipid accumulation in skeletal muscle.
  • Interaction between Environment and Genes in the Pathogenesis of Diabetes and Obesity and Related Metabolic Subphenotypes. These studies examine the contribution of specific gene polymorphisms (for example UCP3) to clinical and metabolic traits in relationship to environmental parameters such as diet and physical activity. Study groups include Gullah speaking African Americans and families with adolescent sib pairs discordant for obesity and/or Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Pathophysiology and Clinical Diagnoses of the Insulin Resistance (or Metabolic) Syndrome. These studies include the impact of race and racial genetic admixture of the Insulin Resistance Syndrome trait cluster.
  • Markers and Mechanisms of Vascular Disease in Diabetes. These studies involve secreted factors from adipocytes and gene polymorphisms, and collaborations with the DCCT/EDIC Study Group (i.e., the national cohort of DCCT/EDIC patients with Type 1 Diabetes) and the VA Diabetes Study (i.e., a VA cooperative study in Type 2 Diabetic patients).

Representative Publications

  • Liao Y, Kwon S, Shaughnessy S, Wallace P, Hutto A, Jenkins AJ, Klein RL, Garvey WT. Critical evaluation of ATP III criteria for the Insulin Resistance Syndrome: impact of race on the trait cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Diabetes Care, In Press, 2004.
  • Garvey WT. The role of uncoupling protein 3 in human physiology. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 111:438-441, 2003.
  • Garvey WT, Kwon S, Zheng D, Shaughnessy S, Wallace P, Pugh K, Jenkins AJ, Klein RL, Liao Y. The Effects of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus on Lipoprotein Subclass Particle Size and Concentration Determined by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Diabetes, 52:453-462, 2003.
  • Willi SM, Kennedy A, Wallace P, Rogers NL, Garvey WT. Troglitazone antagonizes metabolic effects of glucocorticoids in humans: effects on glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, suppression of free fatty acids, and leptin. Diabetes, 51:2895-2902, 2002.
  • Maianu L, Keller SR, Garvey WT. Adipocytes express abnormalities in translocation and trafficking of vesicles containing GLUT4 and insulin-regulated aminopeptidase in type 2 diabetes. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 86:5450-5456, 2001.

Recent Publications
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