Dr. Peter Havel (right) receives his award from Dr. Kevin Woolard.
Dr. Peter Havel (right) receives his award from Dr. Kevin Woolard.

During the fall faculty reception on September 13, Dr. Peter Havel received the 2019 Zoetis Excellence in Research Award for his exceptional research in metabolism, obesity, and diabetes. His research has increased basic knowledge about the alterations in metabolism that occur with diabetes, bariatric surgery, and consumption of high fructose diets. These research efforts have laid the foundation for developing effective interventions and therapeutic strategies for mitigating the metabolic complications that occur with obesity and diabetes in companion animals and humans.

Havel received a B.S. degree in Zoology (‘88) from the University of Washington before earning his DVM (‘94) and Ph.D. in Endocrinology (’94) from UC Davis. He joined the SVM faculty in 2007, and is a member of the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Havel serves as block leader for VET 410, Endocrinology and Reproduction Block, and is actively engaged in teaching and mentoring in the graduate program in Nutrition.  

Havel’s research focuses on identifying treatment strategies for mitigating adverse metabolic responses to weight gain induced by high sugar diets. His work has shown that plasma ApoC3 levels are strongly related to diet-induced hypertriglyceridemia, and that decreasing plasma ApoC3 levels using dietary fish oil or RNAi-mediated inhibition of ApoC3 levels attenuated fructose-induced hypertriglyceridemia in rhesus monkeys. Havel also identified the peptide hormone, adropin, as a potential contributor to weight gain and metabolic dysfunction following consumption of a high sugar diet. 

In addition, Havel has contributed to diabetes research through his development of the UC Davis Type 2 diabetes mellitus rat. This rat model largely recapitulates the metabolic and pathophysiological changes induced by Type 2 diabetes mellitus in humans. Thus, these rats have become an important resource for investigators studying diabetes. 

Havel has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in high impact journals involving international collaborations from multiple countries. His impact is further substantiated by his “fingerprint” on Scopus: 17,901 citations with an H-index of 67 (as of August 2019).  He is on the short list of the top experts on the impact of bariatric surgery and high fructose diets on metabolism, obesity and diabetes in humans and companion animals.