Research in Touro California's College of Osteopathic Medicine is robust.
Our faculty's interests include HIV treatment, cancer vaccines, metabolism, lipid disorders, aging, inflammation, neurological and chronic diseases and more.
Faculty Research Topics
Areas of interest and research include:
- Metabolic alterations in cancer and rapid cell proliferation.
- Metabolic effects of pharmacotherapy on muscle cells.
- Mitochondrial effects of novel compounds in cancer and neurodegeneration models.
- The intersection of nutrition/meal composition and its role in chronic disease.
- The human metabolism, specifically carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, uses stable isotope tracer methodology.
- Dietary composition, with a special emphasis on carbohydrate quantity and quality, and its relationship to features of atherogenic dyslipidemia.
We have a diversified platform of research. Most of this is clinical research that focuses on nutritional and pharmacologic interventions for the prevention and early treatment of type 2 diabetes and metabolic dysfunction associated with steatotic liver disease (MASLD). Nutritional interventions include induction fasting, very low-calorie diets and ketogenic diets, and time-restricted eating. We also complete clinical pharmacologic trials on diabetic kidney disease.
Our research is clinical in nature and focuses on dietary composition, with a special emphasis on carbohydrate quantity and quality, and its relationship to features of atherogenic dyslipidemia, namely: lipoprotein particle size; levels of apoproteins implicated in lipoprotein clearance; lipoprotein kinetics; and lipolytic enzyme activity. We are currently investigating the effect of dietary fructose on intestinal de novo lipogenesis (iDNL) and chylomicron metabolism.
Our research focuses on Long QT syndrome, a cardiac disorder that can lead to fatal arrythmias. Causes of Long QT syndrome include metabolic dysfunction, mutations in cardiac ion channels, and medications that disrupt cardiac ion channel function. We are interested in risk factors for Long QT syndrome. Specifically, we are interested in the risk that imbalances in serum electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium play in Long QT syndrome. The research in our laboratory focuses on one cardiac potassium channel (called HERG).
There are 3 major types of ongoing projects:
- Studies involving electrical recordings of cells containing the cardiac potassium channel HERG. The goal of these studies is to determine if imbalances in extracellular electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium can impact the cardiac potassium channel HERG, and thus could be risk factors for Long QT.
- Searches of a database of over a million electrocardiograms (ECGs) for the risk that combinations of electrolyte imbalances might have on Long QT syndrome.
- Computer modeling studies simulate the electrical activity of single cells under conditions in which extracellular electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium vary.
Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
We research the impact of OMT on a variety of pediatric conditions. Current research includes looking at the effects of OMT on breastfeeding infants and their parents (including a UCSD collaboration), OMT and autism spectrum disorder (including UCSF collaboration), and OMT and plagiocephaly (collaborating with Osteopathy's Promise to Children).
Nutrition & Lifestyle
Our research focuses on the intersection of nutrition/meal composition and its role in chronic disease. The research utilizes stable isotope tracer methodology, in conjunction with mass spectrometry, immunoaffinity columns to separate postprandial lipoproteins, and a host of other techniques to gain a better understanding of human metabolism. Our work includes studying the role of fructose metabolism and meal composition in CVD, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases.
Our research interests are in cancer screening, diagnosis, and management in LMIC, particularly cervical and childhood cancer. Addressing bottlenecks, testing interventions, and evaluating the real impact of programs to help inform global health practice. Health education and healthcare workers (HCW) skills and capacity strengthening are also crucial considerations in the healthcare system and have the potential to improve global health. Our goal is to streamline health education, utilizing professionals in the diaspora and experiential learning platforms as tools to make health education and capacity strengthening of HCW in LMIC more accessible.
This research involves the creation, implementation, and assessment of community service neuroscience outreach programs for children in grades K-12 and adults. Programs are designed to be age-appropriate and focus on providing brain health and information with the goal of empowering participants to make healthy choices regarding brain health and safety. These free programs are given at area schools and organizations throughout the Bay area and also on the Touro University campus. Program effectiveness is assessed via participant results on pre- and post-test evaluations. Data is also collected regarding Touro student volunteers, participation, and perspective.
Our lab is interested in the immunobiology of how tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) acts as a vaccine candidate. Exactly how TMV is recognized by immune cells is still unknown. In collaboration, we are examining how TMV may be recognized by pattern recognition receptors of the innate immune system, especially the toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the pathways they stimulate. Our current data imply that TMV can be recognized by anti-viral and anti-bacterial TLRs.
Our Lab is engaged in structure-based drug design for inhibitors against Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-I fusion. HIV-1 is a retrovirus that causes chronic infection by integrating its viral genome into host cells. Antiretrovirals currently administered as HAART can effectively reduce viral load to undetectable levels, but fail to remove the persistent latent infection, which will spring back if treatment is stopped. In our lab, we are studying the inhibition of HIV entry into cells. Effective entry inhibitors can prevent initial infection and thus establishment of latency. Currently, available entry inhibitors include EnfuvirtideÂ® (ENF), a peptide targeting glycoprotein-41 (gp41), and MaravirocÂ® (MVC), which blocks the cellular CCR5 receptor. These entry inhibitors are not typically used in first-line therapy. Notably, ENF cannot be given orally and has a low barrier to resistance development. Additionally, higher rates of virologic failure were observed when MVC was used in sub-type C infections, the most prevalent worldwide.
Our goal is to target a deep hydrophobic cavity on gp41 that is highly conserved in all subtypes, indicating that it plays an important structure/function role in the virus. Our main focus has been on developing drugs that can be taken by mouth, i.e., on the development of low molecular weight organic compounds. Although it has been challenging to establish a high-affinity interaction, we have recently shown that covalent inhibitors have much improved antiviral activity.
We study mechanisms that regulate form and pattern in the developing nervous system, using embryos and tadpoles of the frog Xenopus laevis as an in vivo vertebrate model system. A recent experimental focus is to decipher how psychoactive substances such as cannabinoids and psilocybin coordinate with cellular tensegrity cues to regulate motility dynamics underlying the morphological development of neurons and neural tissues. Deciphering the mechanisms that form neuronal connections and neural tissues in vivo will provide insight into how the micro-anatomical substrate for all neuronal functions is established during embryonic development, altered in neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases and with prenatal drug and toxin exposure, and could be repaired following injury or disease.
Comparative & Evolutionary Anatomy
Our research focuses on questions about the diet and behavior of living and extinct primates - especially how we might make more realistic inferences about them based on their anatomy. Our work has involved studies of microscopic wear patterns on teeth and as that work can give indications of what an individual did, even millions of years ago, it can allow us to ask and answer new questions about behavior and evolution.
Musculoskeletal Design & Performance
Our lab focuses on musculoskeletal design and performance of the feeding system in humans and nonhuman primates. The research integrates comparative data on muscle architecture and fiber types with bone biomechanics to understand developmental, evolutionary, and functional relationships between feeding-system morphology and feeding behavior in living species and to reconstruct feeding behavior and diet in fossil species.
There are ongoing collaborations with the University of Chicago to study mandibular biomechanics and evolution in great apes, humans, and fossil hominids using finite-element modeling, with Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Arkansas to study ontogeny, function, and evolution of feeding behavior and morphology in tufted capuchin monkeys, with Monash University, Australia, to study feeding mechanics and jaw fracture repair, and with The Ohio University to study scaling relationships of feeding-system morphology. Our lab is widely engaged in training and mentoring women and underrepresented minorities in STEMM as well as Biomechanics research.
Our team has been dedicated to unlocking the secrets of aging and age-related illnesses for over thirty years. Using cutting-edge genetic techniques, real-time quantitative imaging systems, systems biology, and machine learning, we aim to promote healthy aging. We've made significant contributions to the field, including discovering molecular mechanisms of life extension and stress resistance, developing the stress resistance theory of aging, identifying a wide variety of human pathways linked to longevity, aging, and Alzheimer's disease, and outreach to the wider community. The work has been recognized and referenced in major medical textbooks and was highlighted by 19 news reports.
Our current focus includes the Biology of Aging project, the Biotech Academy Internship Project, and the Geriatrics Curriculum Project, which inspire the next generation of researchers and clinicians to join us in our mission. Our research has the potential to revolutionize the field of gerontology, creating "a big helping loop," a cycle of helpfulness that benefits everyone. We're committed to continuing our work until we achieve our goal of promoting healthy aging for all. Our current collaborators include Alzheimer's Association, the Touro Interdisciplinary Institute for Healthy Aging (TIIHA), and the Touro Law School, among others.
Research broadly focuses on investigating physiological adaptations to physical activity (exercise). Current projects have examined the benefits of OMT (suboccipital release (SOR)) and structured breathing (SB) for facilitating post-exercise recovery (blood lactate clearance and heart rate variability) as well as glycemia control after the performance of a high-intensity exercise. Results indicate that high-intensity exercise alone reduces hyperglycemic exposure and peak glycemia after a glucose load and that SOR/SB may further decrease glycemic exposure by augmenting parasympathetic tone based on HRV responses.
We have a diversified platform of research. Most of this is clinical research that focuses on nutritional and pharmacologic interventions for the prevention and early treatment of type 2 diabetes and metabolic dysfunction associated with steatotic liver disease (MASLD). Nutritional interventions include induction fasting, very low-calorie diets, ketogenic diets, and time-restricted eating. We also complete clinical pharmacologic trials on diabetic kidney disease.
We lead a chronic disease and medication therapy management initiative, “The Pharm2Home Initiative, “through performing home visits and telehealth visits to reduce hospitalization and emergency room admissions rates. This community program has the potential to evolve into a research platform, contributing to clinical research in Solano County, CA.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We are dedicated to researching inclusive and equitable pedagogy and the creation of medical education resources to help reduce health disparities.
The Touro Scholar Repository for Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine shows publications of the excellence and breadth of scholarship, research, and professional engagement by Touro University California faculty and students and their impact on local and global communities.
COM Research News
For type 2 diabetes there are no “classic” early symptoms. This is why evidence-based screening with blood tests is so important.
A third Fulbright scholarship and a county grant were awarded to faculty members.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant will fund the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) to help economically, and educationally underserved students overcome common barriers to a healthcare career.
Choosing a wide variety of colors in our diet can boost the body with powerful nutrients.
Metabolic Research Center
Research is an integral part of every program at Touro University California. The Metabolic Research Center (MRC) provides clinical research services, equipment, and facilities for investigators conducting studies in broad areas of metabolic disease at its clinical research facility on our campus.
Office of Sponsored Projects
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) provides a range of services in support of faculty research initiatives both pre- and post-award. They help submit funding applications for research, instruction, and public service activities. In large part, the OSP acts as a liaison between scientists, administrators, and sponsors to make sure all sponsored projects meet University guidelines and policies, as well as federal, state, and sponsor regulations.
Research Support & Funding
Student Research Resources
Internal Research Award Proposals for Student Research (IRAP-SR) funds are small, competitive awards to further the research and scholarship of students working under the mentorship of a faculty member in the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM). Funds will be distributed based on need and merit, from the COM Research budget. Instructions to apply for IRAP-SR funds along with other student research resources can be found on Touro California's Student Intranet.
Faculty Research Resources
More information on topics such as Extramural Funding Opportunities, Institutional Approvals, CITI Training, Clinical Trials, Principles & Practice of Clinical Research, and Guidelines for Scholarly Publications may be found on the Touro California's Faculty Intranet.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Washington University School of Medicine Saint Louis
Debra Markos Hospital, Ethiopia