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Pennington Biomedical is known the

world over for our impressive cadre of

basic scientists, and for nurturing future

generations of explorers. Among our

innovative mid-career basic scientists is

Dr. David McDougal ,

a neuroscientist who

is striving to better understand the brain in

hopes of providing improved treatments for

people living with diabetes.

As an early career researcher, McDougal

got his start in Pennington Biomedical’s


a NIH-funded program that

provides support and training for the next

generation of scientists as they transition

from training to independence and establish

their own extramurally funded research


That initial backing from COBRE provided

McDougal the sturdy research foundation

he needed to build a robust neuroscience

program aimed at combatting diabetes. As

a COBRE mentee, he demonstrated that

dietary restriction can produce alterations

in brain metabolism in rodents similar

to those associated with hypoglycemia

associated autonomic failure (HAAF), a

condition in humans that limits therapy to

greatly improve glucose control to reduce


Today, his work has moved beyond the lab

bench and into the clinic. Through a project

funded by another NIH center housed at

Pennington Biomedical – the LA CaTS

Center – McDougal is working to decipher

diabetes through fasting. His GLIMpSE

research study is focused on answering

the question of what more can be done

to detect a chronic problem with blood

sugar that is dangerously low. McDougal

and his colleagues are observing how

fasting impacts the brain, and compiling

information that is vital for people with

diabetes and their physicians, who currently

have no test for chronic low blood sugar.

With the help of our clinical brain imaging


Dr. Owen Carmichael

, McDougal

utilizes cutting-edge MRI images to detect

variations in brain metabolism during

fasting and whether those changes might

be a good biomarker for chronic low blood

sugar. The unique translational science

collaboration aims to build on vital clues

discovered at the lab bench to advance

science and improve health outcomes in

people living with diabetes.

Read more.


S T O R I E S O F D I S C O V E R Y : L O C A L R E S E A R C H , G L O B A L I M P A C T.

Dr. David McDougal

is pictured in the lab with student intern Jasmine Gosey.