Type-2 Diabetes Research Alumni Profiles

Laura Rasmussen-Torvik

Laura Rasmussen-Torvik is an assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.  Her research focuses on finding genetic variants associated with diabetes-related traits and applying the results of genome-Wide association studies to diabetes and obesity prevention and treatment.

Rasmussen-Torvik earned an undergraduate degree in biogenetics from Dartmouth College in 2000.  She earned an M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in 2004 and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota in 2007.  Her doctoral dissertation included four studies designed to investigate risk factors for insulin resistance, one of the important precursors of type 2 diabetes.

How did you learn about the field of public health?

I learned about public health schools my senior year of college when I was researching graduate programs.  I wanted to pursue a degree where I could continue to learn about genetic causes of disease while also obtaining broad skills pertaining to research of disease etiology and the implementation of disease prevention programs.   I loved the breadth of topics covered in my MPH degree and think it has given me a tremendous foundation for my career.

What attracted you to the field of type 2 diabetes?

I was attracted to the field because there are still so many unanswered questions about the basic pathophysiology of the disease.  I was also motivated to work on diabetes because it is so highly prevalent and because the prevalence is increasing so rapidly.

How did your training at the University of Minnesota prepare you for your career in the field?

The Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota has several professors participating in multiple large studies examining different aspects of diabetes etiology.  Working on multiple studies during my time at the University gave me a wealth of practical knowledge about study design, implementation, and analysis that I am I now using, as I become an independent investigator.