Jonathan S. Bogan, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine who studies how insulin triggers cells to take up glucose from the blood, has been named one of five Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research for 2006 by the W.M. Keck Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations supporting medical research, science and engineering.

The School of Medicine will receive as much as $1 million from the foundation over the next five years to support Bogan’s work on the biochemical mechanisms by which hormones control the movement of protein within cells. This research may lead to a better understanding of the insulin resistance that characterizes type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is estimated to affect 20.8 million people in the United States, or 7 percent of the population. And 90 percent of these individuals have type 2 diabetes, which begins when fat and muscle cells become resistant to insulin and fail to utilize glucose effectively. Understanding this process at the molecular level could lead to improved treatments for diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

Because it is water-soluble, glucose cannot pass directly through the fatty membrane that forms the surface of cells. Bogan studies two proteins that help glucose to enter the cell: GLUT4, a glucose-transporting protein that appears on the cell surface in response to insulin, and TUG, a tethering protein that holds GLUT4 in place inside the cell until insulin stimulation releases it to the cell surface. Bogan and his coworkers first identified TUG in 2003.

“While most research on insulin stimulation of glucose uptake has focused on the cell-surface receptor that binds insulin and begins a signaling process inside the cell, we have targeted the other end of the process,” says Bogan.

As a Keck Young Scholar, Bogan will collaborate with Yale investigators in structural biology, physiology and cell biology to examine the relationship of these two key proteins to other molecules in the cell.

After earning an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at Yale, Bogan received his M.D. at Harvard Medical School and completed his residency and endocrinology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Bogan was a visiting scientist at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and a member of the medical faculty at Harvard before joining the School of Medicine’s faculty in 2002.

Originally established in 1998 as a five-year, $25 million initiative, the Keck Young Scholars program was designed to support groundbreaking research addressing the fundamental mechanisms of human disease.

In 2003, the foundation’s board renewed the program for an additional five years. Mark B. Gerstein, Ph.D., Albert L. Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics, was named a Young Scholar in 1999.