Banting Lecture 2001

Dysregulation of Fatty Acid Metabolism in the Etiology of Type 2 Diabetes

  1. J. Denis McGarry
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas

    Readers of this journal do not need to be reminded of the explosive increase in obesity/type 2 diabetes syndromes and their attendant staggering public health costs that are currently afflicting developed countries. Because of this alarming development and what it portends for the future if left unchecked, the American Diabetes Association, together with its counterparts around the world, as well as the World Health Organization, are faced with the daunting challenge of finding answers to two huge questions. First, what is the pathophysiological basis for these disorders? Second, why is their rate of appearance accelerating so rapidly at this particular juncture of human history, and what, if anything, can we do to intervene? The primary focus of this lecture will be on the first of these issues. I want to emphasize at the outset that I do not plan to dwell exclusively on our own studies in this area. Instead, I shall try to incorporate recent developments from a variety of other laboratories working in the field. Although these will of necessity have to be highly selective, I hope that collectively they will illustrate how we have come to a relatively new and exciting way of thinking about the etiology of type 2 diabetes.


    It has been said in literary circles that James Joyce’s Ulysses is probably the most frequently opened and least read book that has ever been published. In a similar vein, I sometimes think that the question of what causes type 2 diabetes might be one of the most frequently asked and least satisfactorily answered in the history of diabetes research. This is not meant to be an arrogant statement, nor indeed does it imply that I have a magical solution to the question at hand. Rather, it simply reflects the fact that at the dawn of …

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