Since 2000, Dr. Wende has explored the regulation of metabolism and mitochondrial function with a specific focus on glucose utilization in heart and muscle. After completing his undergraduate biochemistry degree and an Honors Thesis with Dr. Mark R. Brodl at Knox College in Galesburg, IL he went on to undertake his Ph.D. training in the Cardiology Department as part of the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, MO studying transcriptional regulation with Dr. Daniel P. Kelly. After completing his thesis work in the spring of 2006, he joined the University of Utah to pursue his postdoctoral studies with Dr. E. Dale Abel examining upstream regulation by cellular signaling and the resulting changes in mitochondrial physiology. Then in August of 2013, he joined the faculty at The University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology as an Assistant Professor. His work has been funded by the American Heart Association, the JDRF, and most recently by an NIH R01 award. With these training experiences he has expanded his independent research program through use of transgenic and diabetes mouse models to identify molecular and genetic mechanisms of glucose-mediated control of mitochondrial function. His outside interests include time with his wife and two daughters and running marathons.
Glucose-mediated remodeling of cardiac DNA methylation - Specifically, work in the laboratory has two primary goals: 1) to determine the role of metabolic substrate switching in the hearts of individuals with diabetes or heart failure, and 2) to define the role of cellular glucose delivery on post-translational regulation of mitochondrial enzyme activity and epigenetic regulation of gene expression that together may lead to the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy. The primary goal of the R01-funded research is to determine the role glucose fluctuations in the regulation of DNA methylation in transgenic models of glucose uptake and diabetes models. Other projects in the laboratory include determining the role of the protein post-translational modification O-GlcNAc in regulating cardiac cellular function and define the role that changes in glucose levels have on long-lasting epigenetic regulation of gene expression in a process termed “glycemic memory”. Recent studies include work defining these molecular pathways in human heart failure biopsies to determine etiology specific epigenetic signatures (as published here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41374-018-0104-x). Finally, we have initial work looking at human samples to define racial differences in epigenetic changes that in turn impact susceptibility to diabetes and heart failure. By determining these molecular signatures of altered protein regulation and DNA structure/regulation we aim to provide critical knowledge to determining future therapeutic interventions for diabetic and heart failure patients.