Matthew Gurka, Ph.D., professor in the department of health outcomes and policy and associate director of the Institute for Child Health Policy, has focused on childhood and adult obesity, specifically studying the metabolic syndrome. He has obtained NIH funding (NIDDK R21 and a current NHLBI R01) to develop and validate tools to measure metabolic syndrome severity that takes into account sex and racial/ethnic differences observed in this condition.
As part of a R01 grant with Mark DeBoer, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, Gurka will lead a team, including Abhishek Vishnu, Ph.D., Gurka’s post-doctoral fellow, Thomas Pearson, M.D., MPH, Ph.D., UF Health executive vice president for research and education and renowned cardiovascular epidemiologist, and Yi Guo, Ph.D., MSPH, research assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy. This research team will examine several existing data sets, including the Jackson Heart Study and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, to measure the predictive power of the severity score and help determine whether people with higher scores are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease as well as variations in these developments across ethnicities. In addition, Gurka hopes the study will shed additional light on the debates surrounding the metabolic syndrome and its utility in predicting future disease.