Franco Folli

Professor and Director of Metabolic Research


Ph.D., Universita di Milano e Padova
M.D., University of Milano, Italy


New animal models for the study of the molecular pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolic and molecular effects of bariatric surgery in patients with type 2 diabetes and morbid obesity.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is characterized by insulin resistance and progressive beta cell dysfunction. Beta cell failure to compensate for insulin resistance is the major determinant of overt hyerglycemia. Intra-islet accumulation of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) deposits have a cytotoxic effect on the beta cells, playing a major role in the pathogenesis of beta cell death. We believe that the study of animal models which are physiologically very close to humans will be of extreme importance to better understand the molecular pathways that underlie insulin action and resistance, as well as beta cell failure. This knowledge will also help us to find new means to prevent and cure insulin resistance and subsequent deficiency, which are the hallmarks of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The baboon is a new non-human primate model to examine the cellular/molecular mechanisms responsible for insulin resistance, for the study of beta cell dysfunction and death and very early therapeutic interventions in T2DM. Obesity affects a very large proportion of the population worldwide, including a very large proportion of young adults. It is characterized by insulin resistance, arterial hypertension and increased cardiovascular risk and medical therapy has limited possibilities of success. Bariatric surgery has demonstrated that it can benefit a large number of patients and it also offers us the possibility to study the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying the improvement of metabolic and cardiovascular parameters