UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Lehman, Donna M

School of Medicine
(210) 567-6714

Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Medicine with a cross appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. My current research program addresses the health challenges of diabetes/obesity and prostate cancer. I am PI of the landmark San Antonio Family Diabetes Study with a goal to identify and elucidate molecular mechanisms underpinning the disparate high rate of metabolic disorders among the Hispanic population. I have a strong record of research funding and service in this area, serving as PI on 7 federally funded projects as well as others from private organizations and pharma. I have built a pipeline in my lab to produce human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from either fibroblasts, lymphocytes or stored lymphoblastoid cell lines from human subjects using viral-free methods, to differentiate these into a variety of disease-relevant cells including CNS neurons, adipocytes, and cardiomyocytes for study, and to assess potentially detrimental changes in a developmental-specific manner. To support our study of energy homeostasis, we have directed extensive effort into generating hypothalamic neurons of the arcuate nucleus, which are key neurons involved in regulation of appetite and whole body energy metabolism, such as browning of fat. These CNS neurons are inaccessible in humans except post mortem. We are currently using state-of-the-art methods such as ATACseq and HiC to study epigenomic changes in these cells that are relevant to obesity. We are also applying gene editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 to investigate effects of genetic variants on cellular biology and disease.
My research program also investigates prostate cancer. We have recently completed a study investigating ethnic disparity in the effects of statin and metformin treatment on prostate cancer prevention among diabetics and reported the novel finding that metformin use either alone or in combination with statin therapy was associated with a greater prostate cancer incidence reduction in Hispanics with type 2 diabetes as compared to non-Hispanic white or African American subjects. My lab has also developed computational programs for copy number variant (CNV) analyses and identified copy number and other variants that are associated with risk for prostate cancer incidence or progression in this population.

9/2008 - Present Associate Professor UT Health Science Center San Antonio, Medicine, San Antonio, TX