Dr. Valeria Tosti joined the Department of Medicine as an Instructor in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Sciences in November, 2018.
As a physician working with a primarily geriatric population in Italy, she became acutely aware of the physical and emotional burdens of certain chronic diseases. This work, along with data from epidemiological studies and clinical trials, shifted her longevity and aging research focus to prevention, as many age-associated chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, can be reversed or even prevented in some cases through the implementation of healthy lifestyle interventions such as changes in diet.
Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer represent leading causes of death and disability in industrialized countries and also in many developing countries; if this trend continues, the financial burden on societies, governments and individuals is likely to become unbearable over the next few decades.
To that end, since 2015, Dr. Tosti has been working on clinical research studies at WUSM that explore the metabolic effects of different nutritional approaches like protein restriction, calorie restriction, intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet. Her work includes subject recruitment, protocol development, study participant consent and enrollment screening per protocol inclusion/exclusion criteria, and collecting and storing the biospecimens. She prepares samples for genetic analyses such as RNA sequencing, proteomics and metabolomics, interpret the data and write manuscripts for publication in scientific journals. Since she began her work at WUSM as a Visiting Researcher, she has contributed to ten scientific papers which have been submitted for publication; she is first author on one of these.
Her hope is that once the underlying mechanisms, physiology and pathophysiology of the metabolic effects of the above dietary interventions can be understood, meaningful scientific advances can be made toward the prevention and treatment of certain chronic age-associated diseases. The burden of diseases and their complications can be lessened for patients (and providers), and ideally treatments may be improved as people live longer, healthier lives.