Julio Ayala, Ph.D.

Julio Ayala, Ph.D. headshot

Julio Ayala, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Cardiometabolic Phenotyping Core
Associate Professor

Julio Ayala's Research Focus

Related Diseases > Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Aging-Related Diseases, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cardiomyopathies, Metabolic Diseases, Diabetes - General

The growing epidemic of the metabolic syndrome is a critical health care issue affecting the quality of life for millions of individuals. A predominant factor associated with the metabolic syndrome is dysregulated fuel metabolism. The general aim of our research has been to understand the control of inter-organ fuel metabolism with particular emphasis on the regulation of glucose flux by insulin. The approach is to utilize dietary manipulations and pharmacological intervention to perturb metabolic systems in various mouse models. Our laboratory has developed state-of-the-art chronic catheterization techniques that allow for the assessment of insulin action in vivo in unstressed, non-restrained conscious mice using the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp.

Julio Ayala's Research Report

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a gut-secreted peptide that enhances the secretion of insulin from pancreatic beta cells in response to nutrient intake. Because of this incretin effect, GLP-1 action is an attractive target for anti-diabetic therapies. Evidence from our group indicates that signaling through the GLP-1 receptor (Glp1r) also modulates insulin action in the liver and skeletal muscle independent of its ability to stimulate insulin secretion. Interestingly, the Glp1r is not expressed in either the liver or skeletal muscle. However, the Glp1r is expressed in hypothalamic nuclei that play a role in the regulation of glucose homeostasis. The Glp1r is also expressed in brain regions involved in the control of food intake and motivated behavior. Therefore, this presents an exciting opportunity for future research into the role of this incretin hormone to regulate various aspects of fuel metabolism.

Julio Ayala's Bio

Julio Ayala, Ph.D., joined Sanford-Burnham from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee where he was Research Assistant Professor (2007-2009) in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Technology Transfer Director for the Vanderbilt-NIH Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center. Dr. Ayala received his Ph.D. and conducted his post-doctoral studies in molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University. His postdoctoral work was at Vanderbilt with Dr. David Wasserman, focusing on regulatory mechanisms that control insulin-stimulated muscle glucose uptake.


B.S., Chemistry, Duke University, 1997
Ph.D., Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 2003

Other Appointments

Adjoint Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Funding Awards and Collaborative Grants

Junior Faculty Award, American Diabetes Association

Honors and Recognition

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Scholar in Diabetes, 2006
New Investigator Award, American Physiological Society, Endocrinology & Metabolism Section, 2008

IM Program


Burmeister MA, Ayala J, Drucker DJ, Ayala JE
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2013 Apr 1;304(7):E677-85
Burmeister MA, Bracy DP, James FD, Holt RM, Ayala J, King EM, Wasserman DH, Drucker DJ, Ayala JE
J Physiol 2012 Oct 15;590(20):5245-55
Burmeister MA, Ferre T, Ayala JE, King EM, Holt RM, Ayala JE
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2012 Feb 1;302(3):E334-43
Mulvihill EE, Varin EM, Gladanac B, Campbell JE, Ussher JR, Baggio LL, Yusta B, Ayala J, Burmeister MA, Matthews D, Bang KW, Ayala JE, Drucker DJ
Cell Metab 2016 Nov 4;
Smith KR, Hussain T, Karimian Azari E, Steiner JL, Ayala JE, Pratley RE, Kyriazis GA
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2016 Feb 16;:ajpendo.00484.2015
Kim GH, Szabo A, King EM, Ayala J, Ayala JE, Altarejos JY
Mol Metab 2014 Dec 19;4(3):227-36