Dr. Peter Havel, DVM, PhD

Affiliate Scientist
California National Primate Research Center

Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Nutrition, UC Davis


Dr. Havel and members of his laboratory are investigating the regulation of carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and the role of endocrine systems in the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and liver disease. Areas of interest include mechanisms regulating the secretion of pancreatic, gastrointestinal hormones and adipocyte hormones, the interaction of diet composition such as dietary fats and sugars (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids and fructose) with the endocrine regulation of energy metabolism and the effects of bariatric surgery.

His research team is conducting studies on the prevention and treatment of diabetes and metabolic diseases in a novel rat model of type 2 diabetes, the UCD-T2DM Rat developed by his laboratory. He has been conducting research investigating endocrine/metabolic diseases in nonhuman primates (NHPs) at the CNPRC for >25 years.  His laboratory has developed a high sugar diet-induced rhesus macaque model of metabolic syndrome characterized by weight gain, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, systemic inflammation and liver fat accumulation (Clin. Trans. Sci., 2011). He has received grants from the NIH and the American Diabetes Association as well as funding for a number industry sponsored projects using the diet-induced model resulting in 18 original publications (e.g., J. Nutr., 2014, Am. J. Physiol., 2015, Mol. Metab., 2018, J. Biol. Chem., 2019, J. Lipid Res., 2019 and 2020)  The rhesus model is also discussed in two recent comprehensive review articles on animal and NHP models of obesity, diabetes and related metabolic diseases (Nature Rev. Endocrinol., 2018, ILAR J., 2017). Dr. Havel is currently expanding his research into the connections between metabolic dysfunction and cognitive decline in aging and dementia in the UCD-T2DM and diet-induced rhesus macaque models.