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Dennis Villareal, M.D.


2020 Recipient

Media Component
Dennis Villareal, M.D.

Area: Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Dr. Dennis Villareal is professor of medicine in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. His research work represents major contributions to the fields of aging and obesity and has significantly influenced the care of older adults. Dr. Villareal’ s work highlights the value of weight loss and exercise to improve the medical complications of obesity in older adults, an increasing population that is particularly vulnerable to adverse outcomes because of frailty.

In his 2017 New England Journal of Medicine paper, Dr. Villareal showed that weight loss plus combined aerobic and resistance training is most effective in improving functional status of older adults with obesity. The lifestyle intervention protocols that he showed to be highly successful in older adults are accessible with the full text version of the article for dissemination to the public.

In addition, using a combination of molecular and cellular techniques, he recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism (2019) that in this older population, combined aerobic and resistance exercise is superior to either mode independently for improving muscle protein synthesis and myocellular quality, thereby maintaining muscle mass during weight-loss therapy.

To further comprehensively examine underlying mechanisms for the responses to specific exercise types during weight-loss therapy, he reported in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (2019) that,compared with aerobic exercise, resistance and combined aerobic and resistance exercise are associated with less bone loss. The results suggest that both resistance and combined aerobic and resistance exercise can be recommended to protect against bone loss during weight loss therapy of older adults with obesity.

Until recently, the appropriate management approach to obesity in older adults has been controversial. Dr Villareal’s work has shown that functional problems associated with obesity can be addressed safely through weight loss plus combined aerobic and resistance exercise, so that older individuals with obesity may be considered for such interventions.


DeBakey Award Nominations


Baylor College of Medicine faculty members are invited to nominate colleagues for Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Awards. Learn more.