Video: UM lab conducts research about diabetes and heart disease


Mallory Harmon testing heart cells for their healthiness. Photo by Taylor Gore.

Taylor Gore
Oxford Stories

At the University of Mississippi, Dr. James Stewart facilitates a pharmaceutical lab that focuses on the relationship between Type II diabetes and heart disease.

Stewart’s goal is to research this relationship and determine how the transition from Type II diabetes to heart disease can be prevented.

“There is a high correlation between Type II diabetes and the development of heart disease,” said Stewart. “Our role is looking at the molecular and cellular events that lead up to that transition to heart disease.”


Dr. James Stewart discussing his pharmaceutical lab. Photo by Taylor Gore.

By the year 2020, approximately one third of Mississippians will be considered Type II diabetic or pre-diabetic.

“Sixty to 70 percent of those patients are going to experience some type of cardiovascular event, whether it’s stroke or heart disease,” Stewart said.

Stewart wants his lab’s research to combat this epidemic plaguing Mississippi by developing therapies that can prevent Type II diabetes’ transition into heart disease.

Graduate student Stephanie Burr conducts research in the lab. Burr utilizes heart cells to perform research.


Stephanie Burr explaining how heart cells are treated in the lab. Photo by Taylor Gore.

Both normal and diabetic heart cells are studied under different treatment conditions.

“Cells are treated with different kinds of drugs, and we see if those cells stay healthy or become unhealthy,” said Burr. “We can apply that information to see how a heart would function in diabetic conditions in a human.”

Burr trains undergraduate student Mallory Harmon to conduct research in the lab.

Harmon is a biology major planning to attend medical school after graduating from the University of Mississippi.

Harmon is interested in healthcare related research, and she enjoys learning how to conduct research in Stewart’s lab.


Heart cells being tested for healthiness. Photo by Taylor Gore.

The research conducted in Stewart’s lab is intended to aid in the diabetic epidemic plaguing Mississippi. The year 2018 marks the first year of Stewart’s lab’s involvement at the University of Mississippi, and his research will greatly benefit healthcare in Mississippi.

“It is really exciting, as far as some of the work we are doing,” Stewart said. “This is just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle that a number of researchers are doing across, not only the nation, but the world to really address how Type II diabetes affects patient population and heart disease.”

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