Paul Coen

  • Research

    Dr. Coen studies how mitochondria and sphingolipid metabolism contribute to sarcopenia and insulin resistance in aging.

  • Biography

    Dr. Coen earned his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Paul Coen's Research Focus

The increased prevalence of age-related sarcopenia, frailty and impaired mobility are major healthcare problems. Older adults are particularly susceptible to a greater loss of muscle mass with prolonged muscle disuse that occurs, for example, with bed rest during hospitalization. Despite these enormous public health problems, the mechanisms underlying loss of muscle mass and weakness are not fully understood. Dr. Coen’s research is focused on elucidating the role of skeletal muscle mitochondrial energetics in the pathophisiology associated with aging (sarcopenia) and obesity (insulin resistance). The goal of his current NIH-supported project is to further understand how dysfunctional mitochondria and muscle lipid metabolism contribute to loss of muscle quality (strength per unit muscle mass) and slower walking speed in older adults. Loss of muscle quality and slower walking speed are both important clinical parameters that can lead to mobility disability and loss of independence in older individuals. A second area of interest relates to the clinical importance of regular exercise following gastric bypass surgery. Few studies have objectively examined whether exercise following surgery-induced weight loss provides additive benefit in terms of weight loss, insulin sensitivity and metabolism.

About Paul Coen


Prior to joining the faculty at SBMRI and TRI, Dr. Coen was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh (2010-2013). He directed a number of research projects in the areas of obesity, aging and muscle metabolism at the Department of Medicine’s Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Centre. Dr. Coen also taught graduate level courses in muscle metabolism, advanced exercise physiology, and directed graduate student research projects at the Department of Health and Physical Activity.

Dr. Coen’s postdoctoral training was in the area of muscle metabolism under the mentorship of Dr. Bret Goodpaster at the University of Pittsburgh’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism (2008-2010). During the first year of his fellowship, he conducted a nested case controlled study to examine the relationship between skeletal muscle insulin resistance (determined by hyperinsulemic, euglycemic clamp) and fiber type specific triglyceride and ceramide content in obese females. This study revealed novel relationships between muscle ceramide and fiber type specific IMTG with insulin sensitivity and resulted in a first authored publication in the journal Diabetes. His postdoctoral work also resulted in authorship on numerous peer-reviewed publications in high impact journals such as Obesity, Diabetes, and Diabetes Care. Dr. Coen has given oral presentations at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting (2009, 2013) and American College of Sports Medicine meeting (2011) and acts as an ad-hoc reviewer for many journals, including Plos One, Obesity, International Journal of Obesity, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and the American Journal of Physiology.

Originally hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Dr. Coen made the jump across the pond to study for a PhD in Exercise Physiology at Purdue University, which he completed in 2008. Prior to this, he completed an M.S. in Vascular Biology at the Vascular Health Research Center (VHRC) at Dublin City University (2004), and received his initial didactic and laboratory-based training with a B.Sc. in Bioanalytical Science from the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, Ireland (2000).

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Postdoctoral Fellow, Metabolism, University of Pittsburgh, 2010 Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology, Purdue University, 2008 M.Sc. in Vascular Biology, Dublin City University, 2004 B.Sc. in Bioanalytical Science, I.T. Tallaght, 2000

Funding Awards and Collaborative Grants

NIH/NIA K01 AG044437 - Ceramide Mediated Oxidative Stress in Muscle Loss with Aging and Disuse (2013-2017)

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