Rebecca Scalzo

Rebecca Scalzo

  • Endocrinology (SOM)

Research Description

Dr. Scalzo studies sex differences in adults with type 2 diabetes. All people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease, however, this risk is exaggerated in premenopausal women compared with age-matched men. A woman’s greater relative risk for developing cardiovascular disease with type 2 diabetes could be related to sex differences in how the skeletal muscle is affected by type 2 diabetes. Dr. Scalzo’s early career was supported by a Ludeman Family Center for Women's Health Research seed grant to describe the differences in muscle between females and males with and without diabetes. Data generated with this Ludeman Center support suggested that muscle metabolism was maintained in males while impaired in females with diabetes. This finding was the basis for Dr. Scalzo’s VA Career Development award and her transition to a faculty position at CU Anschutz. Currently, Dr. Scalzo’s research is focused on understanding how type 2 diabetes impacts the metabolism of skeletal muscle in premenopausal women. She is particularly interested in understanding how type 2 diabetes alters the benefits of estrogen signaling in the muscle. The goal of Dr. Scalzo’s work is to identify muscle specific targets specifically for the treatment of women with type 2 diabetes.

Seed grant title: The Sex Specific Impact of Type 2 Diabetes on the Gene Expression Signature Associated with Skeletal Muscle Mitochondria

Premenopausal women with type 2 diabetes suffer greater consequences associated with their diabetes compared with similarly aged men with the disease. One of these consequences is a greater risk for heart disease which is linked to how well their muscles use sugar and fat during exercise. The goal of Dr. Scalzo's project is to understand why women with diabetes have greater risk by exploring the effect of diabetes and the female sex hormone estrogen on the machinery within the muscle where sugar and fat are used, the mitochondria. Completion of this project will identify potential targets for treatments specifically designed for women with diabetes and their greater risk of heart disease.