DORI brings together a diverse group of researchers spanning over 26 divisions & departments across the University of Southern California.

All of Us Research Program

The All of Us Research Program has a simple mission. We want to speed up health research breakthroughs. To do this, we’re asking one million people to share health information. In the future, researchers can use this to conduct thousands of health studies. Participants must be 18 years of age and over.

For more information, please visit the website, or email us at

BrainChild Study

This study looks at the risks for diabetes and obesity in children whose mothers had diabetes during pregnancy. We hope to learn about how being exposed to diabetes in utero may affect risk for diabetes and obesity in children. In particular, we are interested in examining behavior and brain development in children whose mothers had gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Brain Response to Sugar

This study is about how the brain responds to different types of sugars. Particularly, how the brain responds to glucose, fructose, and sucrose, and how this response may be different in young people who are overweight and obese compared to those who are normal weight.

Genetics of Liver Fat (GoLF) Study

The Genetics of Liver Fat (GoLF) Study is examining how differences in genes (the “blue print” for all inherited traits) may determine why some people are more likely to develop fat in their liver and how that fat level contributes to the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Mitochondrial Derived Peptides Research

The Cohen lab investigates the role that mitochondrial derived peptides play in obesity and diabetes and their possible use as novel therapeutics. 

Pinchas Cohen, MD
Office Phone: (213) 740-1354
Fax: (213) 740-5694

Mothers' and Their Children's Health Study (MATCH)

The MATCH Study examines how maternal stress may compromise parenting practices related to their children’s dietary and physical activity, and contribute to obesity risk over time.

Genevieve Dunton
 (323) 442-8224

Sedentary Behavior and Health Outcomes Study

This groundbreaking study will examine whether past energy balance behaviors predict the metabolic response to interrupting sitting time in healthy children. We will also study the effects of the social context and home environment on these energy balance behaviors and glucose homeostasis using ecological momentary assessment and continuous glucose monitoring.

This study will inform future targeted intervention strategies to prevention or ameliorate the consequences of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.

For more information, please email us at

TIME Study

The TIME Study uses smartphones and smartwatches to collect intensive longitudinal data to examine how psychological and contextual factors affect the adoption and maintenance of physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviors across 12 months in young adults.

Genevieve Dunton
 (323) 442-8224

Specific Research Areas of Interest

To facilitate collaboration and guide the development of the Institute, the DORI developed an initial seven research categories, to provide a forum for topical discussion and the development of collaborative pilot studies.  

These are by no means research “silos”, rather broad topics to be researched and attacked from diverse perspectives.  

Researchers meet individually and through periodic Institute retreats that offer opportunities for collaboration, learning, and pilot study funding. As the Institute develops, additional research areas will be developed.

Neuroscience & Appetite Regulation​



Behavior &

Beta-Cell Biology & Type I Diabetes

Nutrition & Environment

Health Disparities

How you can support us

Your donation supports scientists, funds cutting edge research, and the training and education of students and young researchers. Any donation amount can provide seed funding in order to obtain NIH funding, bridge NIH funding gaps, or recruit world-class faculty.

Research Updates

Menstrual Dysfunction in Girls From the Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) Study.

Context: Little is known about reproductive function in girls with youth-onset type 2 diabetes.

Objectives: To characterize girls with irregular menses and effects of glycemic treatments on menses and sex steroids in the Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Youth (TODAY) study. Publication by Kelsey MM, Braffett BH, Geffner ME, Levitsky LL, Caprio S, McKay SV, Shah R, Sprague JE, Arslanian SA; TODAY Study Group.

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A Transcriptomic Signature of the Hypothalamic Response to Fasting and BDNF Deficiency in Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Transcriptional analysis of brain tissue from people with molecularly defined causes of obesity may highlight disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets. We performed RNA sequencing of hypothalamus from individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a genetic obesity syndrome characterized by severe hyperphagia. Publication by Bochukova EG, Lawler K, Croizier S, Keogh JM, Patel N, Strohbehn G, Lo KK, Humphrey J, Hokken-Koelega A, Damen L, Donze S, Bouret SG, Plagnol V, Farooqi IS. 

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The Influence of Parental Education on Dietary Intake in Latino Youth.

Acculturation to the US culture is associated with suboptimal dietary choices in Latino youth. The role of parental education in shaping children’s nutrition is less clear. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between parental education, acculturation and dietary intake in 96 Latino youth ages 8-18 years. Publication by Hasson RE, Hsu YJ, Davis JN, Goran MI, Spruijt-Metz D. 

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Graves’ hyperthyroidism in pregnancy: a clinical review.

The goal of this paper is to review the diagnosis and management of Graves’ hyperthyroidism in pregnancy. The paper will discuss preconception counseling, etiologies of hyperthyroidism, thyroid function testing, pregnancy-related complications, maternal management, including thyroid storm, anti-thyroid drugs and the complications for mother and fetus, fetal and neonatal thyroid function, neonatal management, and maternal post-partum management. Publication by Nguyen CT, Sasso EB, Barton L, Mestman JH.

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Review of methods for measuring β-cell function: Design considerations from the Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) Consortium.

The Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) study was initiated to evaluate interventions to slow or reverse the progression of β-cell failure in type 2 diabetes (T2D). Publication by Hannon TS, Kahn SE, Utzschneider KM, Buchanan TA, Nadeau KJ, Zeitler PS, Ehrmann DA, Arslanian SA, Caprio S, Edelstein SL, Savage PJ, Mather KJ; RISE Consortium.

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Effects of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise on Metabolic Syndrome, Sarcopenic Obesity, and Circulating Biomarkers in Overweight or Obese Survivors of Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Purpose Metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer recurrence in survivors of breast cancer. Publication by Dieli-Conwright CM, Courneya KS, Demark-Wahnefried W, Sami N, Lee K, Buchanan TA, Spicer DV, Tripathy D, Bernstein L, Mortimer JE.

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A cautionary response to SMFM statement: pharmacological treatment of gestational diabetes.

Use of oral agents to treat gestational diabetes mellitus remains controversial. Recent recommendations from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine assert that metformin may be a safe first-line alternative to insulin for gestational diabetes mellitus treatment and preferable to glyburide. Publication by Barbour LA, Scifres C, Valent AM, Friedman JE, Buchanan TA, Coustan D, Aagaard K, Thornburg KL, Catalano PM, Galan HL, Hay WW Jr, Frias AE, Shankar K, Simmons RA, Moses RG, Sacks DA, Loeken MR.

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Research Gaps in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: Executive Summary of a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Workshop.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases convened a workshop on research gaps in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) with a focus on 1) early pregnancy diagnosis and treatment and 2) pharmacologic treatment strategies. Publication by Wexler DJ, Powe CE, Barbour LA, Buchanan T, Coustan DR, Corcoy R, Damm P, Dunne F, Feig DS, Ferrara A, Harper LM, Landon MB, Meltzer SJ, Metzger BE, Roeder H, Rowan JA, Sacks DA, Simmons D, Umans JG, Catalano PM

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Occupational Therapy Intervention Improves Glycemic Control and Quality of Life Among Young Adults With Diabetes: the Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) Randomized Controlled Trial.

To assess the efficacy of a manualized occupational therapy (OT) intervention (Resilient, Empowered, Active Living with Diabetes [REAL Diabetes]) to improve glycemic control and psychosocial well-being among ethnically diverse young adults with low socioeconomic status (SES) who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Publication by Pyatak EA, Carandang K, Vigen CLP, Blanchard J, Diaz J, Concha-Chavez A, Sequeira PA, Wood JR, Whittemore R, Spruijt-Metz D, Peters AL.

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Sotagliflozin in Combination With Optimized Insulin Therapy in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes: The North American inTandem1 Study.

Evaluate the efficacy and safety of the dual sodium-glucose cotransporter 1 (SGLT1) and SGLT2 inhibitor sotagliflozin in combination with optimized insulin in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Publication by Buse JB, Garg SK, Rosenstock J, Bailey TS, Banks P, Bode BW, Danne T, Kushner JA, Lane WS, Lapuerta P, McGuire DK, Peters AL, Reed J, Sawhney S, Strumph P.

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HbA1c and Hypoglycemia Reductions at 24 and 52 Weeks With Sotagliflozin in Combination With Insulin in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes: The European inTandem2 Study.

he objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the dual sodium-glucose cotransporter 1 and 2 inhibitor sotagliflozin compared with placebo when combined with optimized insulin in adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Publication by Danne T, Cariou B, Banks P, Brandle M, Brath H, Franek E, Kushner JA, Lapuerta P, McGuire DK, Peters AL, Sawhney S, Strumph P.

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Improved Postprandial Glucose with Inhaled Technosphere Insulin Compared with Insulin Aspart in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes on Multiple Daily Injections: The STAT Study.

he primary purpose of this study was to assess both glucose time-in-range (TIR: 70-180 mg/dL) and postprandial glucose excursions (PPGE) in 1-4 h using a real-time continuous glucose monitor (CGM) with Technosphere insulin (TI) versus insulin aspart in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) on multiple daily injections (MDI). Publication by Akturk HK, Snell-Bergeon JK, Rewers A, Klaff LJ, Bode BW, Peters AL, Bailey TS, Garg SK.

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Longitudinal Increases in Adiposity Contribute to Worsening Adipokine Profile over Time in Mexican Americans.

Limited studies have assessed the relationship between longitudinal changes in adiposity and changes in multiple adipokines over time. This study examined changes in BMI, total body fat, and trunk fat associated with changes in 16 circulating adipokines in Mexican Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes. Publication by Black MH, Shu YH, Wu J, Koebnick C, MacKay A, Watanabe RM, Buchanan TA, Xiang AH.

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Exome Sequencing Identifies Genetic Variants Associated with Circulating Lipid Levels in Mexican Americans: The Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS).

In the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRASFS), heritability estimates suggest a strong genetic basis: low-density lipoprotein (LDL, h2 = 0.50), high-density lipoprotein (HDL, h2 = 0.57), total cholesterol (TC, h2 = 0.53), and triglyceride (TG, h2 = 0.42) levels. Publication by Gao C, Tabb KL, Dimitrov LM, Taylor KD, Wang N, Guo X, Long J, Rotter JI, Watanabe RM, Curran JE, Blangero J, Langefeld CD, Bowden DW, Palmer ND. 

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Association of weight gain and fifteen adipokines with declining beta-cell function in Mexican Americans.

This report assessed three adiposity measures (BMI, percent body fat, trunk fat), insulin resistance, and fifteen adipokines in relationship to longitudinal change in β-cell function measured by disposition index (DI) from frequently-sampled-intravenous-glucose-tolerance testing. Publication by Xiang AH, Black MH, Shu YH, Wu J, MacKay A, Koebnick C, Watanabe RM, Buchanan TA.

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Protocol for the Imagine HEALTH Study: Guided imagery lifestyle intervention to improve obesity-related behaviors and salivary cortisol patterns in predominantly Latino adolescents.

nnovative lifestyle interventions are needed to reduce type 2 diabetes risk in adolescents. This report describes the protocol of the Imagine HEALTH cluster randomized control trial, that tests an intervention based in Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and uses lifestyle education combined with the mind-body, complementary health modality of guided imagery (GI), to address obesity prevention and treatment in predominantly Latino adolescents. Publication by Weigensberg MJ, Spruijt-Metz D, Wen CKF, Davis JN, Ávila Q, Juarez M, Brown-Wadé N, Lane CJ.

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DORI researcher, Senta Georgia, PhD has been selected for an oral abstract presentation at the ADA’s 78th Conference

DORI researcher, Senta Georgia, PhD has been selected for an oral abstract presentation at the American Diabetes Association’s 78th Scientific Sessions, June 22-26, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Her abstract, “CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing Restores Beta-Cell Differentiation and Function in Patient-Specific iPSC’s,” will be printed in the Scientific Sessions’ Abstract Book, the July 2018 supplement to the journal Diabetes.

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DORI’s 5th Annual Symposium is Feb. 27 & 28, 2018

USC DORI is hosting a no-cost 2-day symposium on February 27 & 28, 2018.
February 27th will begin at 11:00am with 5 speakers and student/postdoc/fellow oral and poster presentations. February 28th will begin at 8:30am with 7 speakers and student/postdoc/fellow oral and poster presentations.

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Gene protects women from heart disease

USC researchers have identified a gene variant that decreases the risk of heart disease — but only among women. Men who carry the variant receive no protective effect.

Hooman Allayee, senior author of the study and associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said scientists have long known that heart disease affects men and women differently, but what causes the difference has not been entirely clear. This new finding may shed light on that mystery.

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2016 DORI Seminar Calendar

Speaker Seminar Date University Marc Weigensberg, MD March 8 (Tue) USC Ashutosh Chilkoti, PhD April 12 (Tue) Duke University 4 USC students/postdocs May 17 (Tue) USC Marzieh Salehi, MD May

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2015 DORI Seminar Calendar

Speaker Seminar Date University/Institute Jacob Friedman, PhD January 21 (Wed) University of Colorado School of Medicine 2nd Symposium Feb. 17 (Tue) & 18 (Wed) 10 speakers (8 external & 2

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DORI 2015 Symposium Weblink

DORI’s symposium on Feb. 18th was recorded and can be viewed at the following link:

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Hunger Hormone in Infancy May Link to Lifelong Obesity Risk

New study offers hope of future treatments to help prevent weight problems

Researchers at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles reveal an unexpected role for ghrelin in early brain development and show its long-term impact on appetite regulation. Their study was published online on January 20 by The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Sugar Linked to Memory Problems in Adolescent Rats

Sugar consumption led to memory problems and brain inflammation.  Studying rats as model subjects, scientists found that adolescents were at an increased risk of suffering negative health effects from sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. 

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Diabetes Detectives

Drs. Casey Donovan and Alan Watts’ work on two published papers addressing glucosensing mechanisms in the hepatic portal vein and the brain as they relate to insulin-induced hypoglycemia and counterregulatory responses. They believe this work may help improve our understanding of the actions of insulin therapy, particularly in patients with type 1 diabetes.

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American Diabetes Association Pathway Award

Congratulations to Kathleen Page, MD, assistant professor of medicine and a member of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute as she has been awarded a prestigious Pathway Accelerator Award from the American Diabetes Association.

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