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Metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes and related complications, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, account for the largest proportion of illness and death in the United States. The prevalence of these diseases is reaching epidemic proportions. For example, diabetes presently affects over 150 million people worldwide and this number is expected to double by 2025.


While lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity levels underlie susceptibility to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, inherited factors also play a significant role in disease risk. Identification of risk genes is critical for the development of improved treatment strategies, accurate methods for early detection, and ultimately, measures for prevention of these complex disorders.

At TGen, our research focuses on the identification of genes that are involved in the development of diabetes, diabetic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and obesity using state-of-the-art technologies. Using this approach, we have successfully identified genes with substantial effects on susceptibility to end-stage kidney failure in diabetes, regulation of cholesterol and lipid levels, and the degree to which individuals respond to diabetes medications with an improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Dr. Johanna DiStefano, Ph.D.,
Head of TGen's Diabetes and Obesity Research Lab

TGen is part of the Healthy Avondale Partnership, a group that was formed to address cardiovascular disease and promote healthy lifestyles in Avondale, particularly among the Hispanic community, which comprises 46 percent of Avondale residents. By providing the knowledge to make healthier lifestyle choices, as well as an understanding of disease development, leading to improved treatment strategies, TGen is poised to make a difference in the quality of life for everyone.


TGen's Diabetes, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases Division

Dr. Johanna DiStefano

Healthy Avondale Project

There are many ways to support TGen's Metabolic Disorders research through the TGen Foundation. Your donation in support of a specific disease that has impacted your life - such as diabetes - are important to furthering the research of TGen scientists. All gifts at every level make a difference!

Volunteer! Become a TGen Ambassador and help raise funds in your community for Metabolic Disorders research. You can also become a member of Bio Leadership and join a network of dedicated individuals and corporations who come together to gain a greater understanding of TGen's research, drug discovery and involvement in patient care.

To discuss ways to become involved and support Metabolic Disorders research at TGen, contact the TGen Foundation at, or call 602.343.8411.