Laura den Hartigh, PhD


  • Research Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition

Complete list of published work.

Dr. den Hartigh received her Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrated Physiology from the University of California, Davis in 2008, with a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology. She began her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Wilson, D.V.M, Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, and completed her training in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Chait, M.D. at the University of Washington. She was appointed to the faculty in 2013 as a Research Assistant Professor, and holds an adjunct appointment with Nutritional Sciences.
Dr. den Hartigh serves on the Editorial Board for the Endocrinology section of the journal Scientific Reports. She frequently serves on study sections on Lipids Basic Science and Lipids and Thrombosis for the American Heart Association, and on study sections on Obesity and Diabetes for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Research Interests

The prevalence of obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions. Representing the major cellular constituent of adipose tissue, adipocytes are now regarded as prominent players in the metabolic as well as hormonal regulation of adiposity. Despite the fundamental role adipose tissue plays in whole body metabolism, nutritive mechanisms that contribute to its maintenance in the context of obesity remain poorly understood. Dr. den Hartigh’s research focuses on the effects of nutrient excess on cellular metabolism, with particular attention given to the effects of fatty acids on cell types associated with the development of obesity such as adipocytes and monocytes/macrophages.
Inflammation of visceral adipose tissue is thought to be associated with insulin resistance, systemic inflammation and atherosclerosis. Furthermore, adipose tissue inflammation is characterized by immune cell accumulation, with macrophages as the predominant infiltrating cell type. We are particularly interested in the role of excess nutrients derived from glucose or various fatty acids on adipose tissue inflammation and metabolism. We use in vitro systems and mouse models to study how obesity derived by nutrient excess leads to adipose tissue and systemic inflammation.

How can this research help people with diabetes?

Identifying how macronutrients influence adipose tissue metabolism and inflammation could inform novel treatment strategies for obesity and associated diabetes management.