Physiology Graduate Student Spotlight - Meet Hui Huang

Hui is originally from China and she is pursuing her PhD degree under the supervision of Dr. Catherine B. Chan.

1 February 2019

Hui is originally from China and she is pursuing her PhD degree under the supervision of Dr. Catherine B. Chan. She is in the 5th year of her program.

How would you describe your research?

My research project focuses on understanding the role of pancreatic β-cell function in the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Nile rat as well as the effects of diet and pharmacological interventions on T2D prevention in Nile rat. T2D is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia, decreased insulin sensitivity and insulin deficiency due to β-cell dysfunction. The Nile rat is a wild rodent which was recently discovered as a model of T2D.

What inspired you to pursue your current research?

Being obese when I was a kid places me at high risk of metabolic diseases, but it also motivated me to understand more of metabolic diseases and T2D, which I believe has a lot to do with nutrition. Here in Chan's lab, I get the chance to learn not only the basic science behind diabetes but also the effect of nutrition on diabetes prevention and control.

What impact(s) will your research have outside of your lab?

T2D is not a monogenic disease. Genetics, environmental factors, lifestyle, and diet are all interrelated and contribute to diabetes progression. Animal models with specific causes and pathogenesis may emphasize only particular aspects of the diabetic phenotype but not resemble the pathophysiology or disease development observed in human subjects. Nile rat, as a polygenic model of T2D without genetic or chemical inducement, recapitulates human stages from initial hyperinsulinemia through to late-onset hyperglycemia and it can serve as a better model for exploring the disease mechanism as well as evaluating novel T2D therapeutic strategies.

What advice would you give to someone that is just starting graduate studies?

Be organized and stop procrastinating.

What is your favorite place/thing to do here at the UofA or in Edmonton?

If I have time, I like to cook and go karaoke or play some billiards with my friends. Otherwise, I would just stay at home and relax after a busy week.