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Dr. Silvia Corvera Leads a New Clinical Trial to Study the Relationship Between Fat, Diabetes and Obesity

Date Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2020


A new clinical study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center is studying what causes diabetes and related metabolic conditions, including obesity.

“Fat actually keeps us healthy," according to Silvia Corvera, MD, professor at UMass Medical School and chair in diabetes research. “However, where we carry our fat matters greatly.”

The location of body fat varies among individuals, with fat deposits around the belly being a risk factor for diabetes. The purpose of this research is to find out how fat cells from the abdomen and buttock regions are different.  

“People who carry fat in their legs and arms are actually protected from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so long as the amount of belly fat is significantly less than the fat in the legs and arms,” said Dr. Corvera. “It’s our goal to determine if these cells are different in people with type 2 diabetes, because it may help explain what causes diabetes and related conditions including obesity.”

The Corvera Lab has had success removing fat from any part of the human body, creating stem cells, and instructing them to make “healthy” brown fat to improve metabolism in humanized mouse models. They continue to study whether we may someday be able to use our own fat to combat obesity. 

"We've shown that if we take these human stem cells, make them brown, and put them into humanized mouse models, we improve the metabolism of those mice," added Dr. Corvera.

Seeking Study Participants

Volunteers ages 45 and older, with and without type 2 diabetes, are currently needed to give blood samples and have a fat aspiration biopsy. Participants will be compensated for their time and should anticipate two visits. Anyone interested in this clinical trial should contact Kaethe Giaquinto, RN at 508-856-2828 or

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