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Rachael Van Pelt, PhD

Associate Professor

Division of Geriatrics
University of Colorado
Anschutz Medical Campus

12631 East 17th Avenue - L15
PO Box 6511, Mail Stop B179
Aurora CO 80045

Rachael Van Pelt, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Center on Aging. She obtained her B.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, Seattle (1993) and her Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Applied Physiology from the University of Colorado, Boulder (1998). Dr. Van Pelt began her postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis and completed her fellowship at the University of Colorado in 2001.

Dr. Van Pelt has been continuously funded by the NIH for more than 16 years to pursue her passion in Aging Physiology, following two major lines of research. First, to determine what makes some adipose tissue beneficial to cardiometabolic health. Although early research focused on the harmful effects of abdominal visceral adiposity on cardiometabolic risk, Dr. Van Pelt was among the first to recognize the independent and apparently beneficial effect of gluteal-femoral adiposity. Based on these observations her laboratory conducted a prospective study to determine whether removal of this favorable fat depot is harmful. These studies were the first to demonstrate an increase in fasting and postprandial triglycerides 1 year following femoral lipectomy. Her second major line of research is focused on the physiologic actions of estradiol. Dr. Van Pelt has completed a series of studies designed to isolate the independent action of estradiol on: 1) insulin- stimulated glucose uptake, 2) insulin suppression of lipolysis, 3) insulin secretion and clearance, and 4) postprandial triglycerides. Current studies are testing whether the timing of estradiol in the context of prolonged estrogen deficiency (i.e., late in menopause) alters its action. Estradiol appears to improve insulin-mediated glucose uptake early (≤6 years) in menopause, but has a detrimental effect late (≥10 years) in menopause. New studies will test whether changes in estrogen receptors with prolonged estrogen deficiency explain, at least in part, these adverse changes in the physiologic action of estradiol.