Lab Members

Marilyn Ader, PhD
Associate Director, Research Scientist

Marilyn Ader, PhD, received her doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Southern California and her masters in biological sciences from Kent State University. Ader has performed basic and translational research in diabetes and obesity for more than 30 years with particular emphasis on the mechanisms by which multiple organ systems interact to maintain glucose homeostasis, and the role impaired interactions contribute to the pathogenesis of diabetes. She has presented extensively on her basic and clinical studies to elucidate the mechanistic link between atypical antipsychotic treatment, obesity and increased diabetes risk. Ader has served on many NIH grant review committees in the areas of obesity, diabetes, metabolism and antipsychotics. She was co-editor-in-chief of Obesity, the flagship scientific journal of The Obesity Society. She is also the director of the masters program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine at Cedars-Sinai.

Isaac Asare Bediako
Graduate Student

Isaac Asare Bediako is a fourth year graduate student studying insulin clearance. Insulin, when secreted by the pancreatic beta cells, must traverse the liver before entering the systemic circulation to be accessed by other tissues like muscle and adipose. During this first passage through the liver, about 50 percent of the insulin is destroyed. Thus, plasma insulin s a function of both pancreatic beta cell secretion and hepatic insulin extraction. C-peptide, which is co-secreted with insulin, can be used as a reasonable surrogate for insulin secretion, but different methods are used to estimate hepatic insulin clearance with, often, different results. His research focus takes advantage of our ability to cannulate the portal vein connecting the pancreas to the liver. Using this access, they can measure how much of insulin administered into the portal vein is directly extracted by the liver. This direct measurement can then be compared with the different surrogate measures to establish the most accurate approach to estimate hepatic insulin clearance.

Malini S. Iyer, PhD
Postdoctoral FellowPostdoctoral Scientist

Malini Iyer, PhD, moved to Los Angeles from Mumbai to pursue her master's degree research with Richard N. Bergman, PhD, in 2007. She later moved with Bergman to Cedars-Sinai to pursue her doctoral research. Currently, she is investigating the role of the sympathetic nervous system in diet-induced insulin resistance.

Rebecca Paszkiewicz
Graduate Student

Rebecca Paszkiewicz graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Iowa in 2009. She joined the Bergman Lab in 2013 as a doctoral candidate. Her thesis project uses the endoscopically implanted EndoBarrier to explore the mechanism of diabetes remission following weight loss surgery.

Francesca Piccinini, PhD
Postdoctoral Scientist

Francesca Piccinini, PhD, earned her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in biomedical engineering at the University of Padova, Italy. She specialized in mathematical modeling of the glucose-insulin system applied to the study of diabetes. Her focus was on the estimation of hepatic insulin extraction and endogenous glucose production during oral tests. Currently, she is working on the oral glucose minimal model, investigating the role of urinary glucose excretion, hepatic and extra-hepatic contributions to insulin clearance and the disposition index.

Rita Thomas
Research Administrative Coordinator

Rita Thomas has been in the Bergman Laboratory for more than 25 years. She has provided technical expertise on several human and animal projects. She also has expertise in quantifying images obtained from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Currently, she is in charge of all the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, radioimmunoassays and colorimetric assays, in addition to overseeing the laboratory supply inventory.

Orison Woolcott, MD
Project Scientist

Orison Woolcott, MD, has primary research interests involving the study of the mechanisms involved in the regulation of insulin secretion and the pathophysiology of insulin resistance. He is also interested in exploring the potential beneficial effects of altitude exposure on glucose metabolism, which could have an impact on obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Patricia Corona
Senior Administrative Services Associate

Patricia Corona received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business. She has worked for the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute since it began in 2011. Corona oversees the daily operations of the Institute, including: preparing documents for grants, contracts and consulting agreements (Federal, industry and non-profit); implementing policies and procedures within the Institute; developing reports, tables and graphs, e.g., budgets; and acting as a resource on Cedars-Sinai standard operating procedure (visa issues, etc.). Prior to working for the Institute, Corona worked for 19 years as the senior administrator for the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, all of which was under Richard N. Bergman, PhD, as Chair.

Hannah Freed
Management Assistant

Hannah Freed has a bachelor’s degree in zoology and general biology from Humboldt State University. She has worked with the Bergman Lab in various capacities since 1999, including in the Bergman Laboratory at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California (USC) from 1999–2003, and then as the assistant of Richard N. Bergman, PhD, both at USC and Cedars-Sinai. In addition, from June 2007 to July 2012, Freed was the assistant to the editor-in-chief (Bergman) for Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society.

Contact the Bergman Lab

8730 Alden Drive.
Thalians Building, Room E104
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Fax: 310-967-3869