We’re pleased to announce that Dwight A. Towler, M.D., Ph.D. is joining Sanford-Burnham’s Lake Nona, Orlando campus as professor and director of our Cardiovascular Pathobiology Program. As program director, Towler will lead the Institute’s research into fundamental and early translational aspects of cardiovascular biology, physiology, and disease. Before joining Sanford-Burnham, Towler was the Ira M. Lang Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Lipid Research at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He will formally assume the position at Sanford-Burnham in November 2012.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Towler, a world-renowned endocrinologist and vascular biologist, to the Institute,” said Sanford-Burnham at Lake Nona scientific director Daniel Kelly, M.D. “At Washington University, Dr. Towler conducted extensive research into the cardiovascular effects of type 2 diabetes, which is a key research area within the Diabetes and Obesity Research Center at Sanford-Burnham.”For the past two decades, Towler has focused on two prevalent and interrelated disorders of mineral metabolism—osteoporosis and vascular calcification. His research is aimed at understanding the molecular causes of arterial calcification, or hardening of the arteries. This condition is a common complication in type 2 diabetes, where it can sometimes necessitate lower extremity amputation. The interrelationship between skeletal and vascular calcification is a particularly important component of mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease and diabetes—and one that is poorly responsive to current medical therapies.
Towler obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Moorhead State University in Minnesota, and both his medical degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Washington University. He completed his medical residency and metabolism fellowship at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
In addition to his academic career, Towler spent four years working in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as senior director of Bone Biology and Osteoporosis Research at Merck & Co. He is a member of the editorial boards of numerous medical journals and a recipient of four active Research Project Grants (R01) from the National Institutes of Health.
At Sanford-Burnham, Towler will develop a world-class cardiovascular research program and establish a laboratory focused on his personal research interests in vascular biology and mineral metabolism in type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. He will also work with colleagues at Florida Hospital to develop a cardiovascular translational initiative to advance laboratory discoveries to clinical testing.
“Cardiovascular complications are the number one cause of death in diabetics. Dr. Towler’s research contributions and leadership of the Cardiovascular Pathobiology Program will be instrumental in our quest to find novel treatments for diabetes and obesity,” said Kelly.