Dr. Owen Chan is renowned for his research in brain glucose sensing and the central mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of hypoglycemia unawareness. His laboratory utilizes cutting-edge neuroscience techniques to study neural circuits that participate in the regulation of peripheral glucose metabolism and understand how brain metabolism is impacted by recurring exposure to hypoglycemia and diabetes. His research shows that during hypoglycemia, when glucose supplies become limited, the brain adapts to using other types of fuel substrates besides glucose to meet its metabolic needs. This in turn, prevents the brain from detecting a fall in blood glucose levels, making the patients unaware of the fact that their blood glucose levels are declining. These discoveries have paved the way to developing novel treatment strategies to reduce or prevent hypoglycemia in patients with diabetes.
I believe that students learn best through first-hand experience and working through a problem. In general, I believe that as a mentor, our job is to provide the students with the necessary background and support to conduct their research, but also to provide them with the guidance they need when they encounter obstacles. As mentors, one of the best things we can do is to challenge our trainees to think for themselves and to guide them to the answers they seek and not to give them the answers. I meet with students on a one-to-one basis at least once per week to go over their projects and have them prepare journal clubs to practice speaking in front of an audience. For their final presentations, I review the presentation with the students individually to provide feedback and then have them present it to the lab for critiques.