Josephine Egan, MD, FRCPI

National Institutes of Health - National Institute on Aging

Dr. Egan has been involved in Clinical Pharmacology and Endocrinology Research for more than three decades as it relates mainly to type 2 diabetes mellitus and the identification of new targets for its treatment. Initially she focused on understanding a class of gut peptides called incretins. Incretins (GLP-1 and GIP) are hormones that are released from the gut in response to food that enhance glucose-mediated insulin secretion through specific receptors on islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.  She identified the GLP-1 receptor as a promising target for therapeutic-based compounds because when activated it boosts insulin secretion. In the past, in preclinical and clinical studies, Dr. Egan showed that the GLP-1 receptor ligand exendin-4, a naturally-occurring product in Gila lizard saliva, could normalize blood glucose in type 2 diabetes. Exendin-4 is now available in injectable form for treating this condition.  In the process of studying the incretin receptors she became expert on islet isolation, islet morphology, islet cell types, mechanisms underlying insulin secretion, regulation of insulin transcription and translation, regulation of glucose sensors and intraislet metabolism. Additionally, she has studied adipokines and cytokines and their interactions with insulin secretion and action. She has a record of productive and novel research projects in an area of relevance to diabetes, metabolism and aging. Dr. Egan has been instrumental in uncovering the fact that endocannabinoids are produced in islets where they regulate insulin and glucagon secretion and serve to modify the actions of incretins. She has also been instrumental in uncovering that pancreatic and gut hormones are produced in taste cells where they modify taste sensation and growth of taste buds. 

For the last six years, in addition to research in her fields of interest, Dr. Egan has been Clinical Director for NIA, overseeing all clinical research for the NIA IRP, and for initiating and bringing to fruition all clinical protocols performed at our clinical site, in Baltimore MD.


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