University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Coleman is an expert in disorders of children born with genetic problems in metabolizing carbohydrates and lipids, as well as those with abnormally high lipid levels in the blood. She studies lipid metabolism, particularly triacylglycerol biosynthesis and fatty acid metabolism in liver, heart, adipose and skeletal muscle. She is particularly interested in understanding the controls on triacylglycerol synthesis and acyl-CoA partitioning, processes linked to diabetes and obesity. Using recombinant forms of enzymes, knockout mice (mice bred with inactivation of specific genes), and cell culture models, members of her lab are identifying the control mechanisms that explain how acyl-CoAs, a group of fatty acid metabolites, are directed into the mitochondria for energy production or stored in lipid droplets as complex lipids. Her studies of knockout mice have provided strong evidence that insulin resistance in the liver is caused by glycerolipid intermediates that impair insulin signaling. An additional interest is the question of why specific enzymes of glycerolipid synthesis increase when cells become cancerous.