This is unpublished

Pandora (Luke)

Associate Professor, Medicine
Adjunct Associate Professor, Epidemiology
Affiliate Faculty Member, UW Center for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health
Affiliate Faculty Member, Institute for Public Health Genetics
Program Director, Clinical Investigator Fellowship


My collaborators and I combine the study of novel blood-based epigenetic biomarkers and established clinical/demographic measures to understand how diabetes develops. Our goal is to develop new biomarkers to find people at the highest risk of diabetes and its complications (prognostic biomarkers) and people likely to respond to interventions aimed at stopping disease progression (predictive biomarkers).

Education & Training

  • MD, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2008)
  • Internal Medicine Internship and Residency, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2008–2011)
  • MS, University of Washington, School of Public Health, Seattle, WA (2014)


  • Fellow, American College of Physicians (2019)
  • UW Chair of Medicine Scholars Award (2017)
  • UW School of Medicine George F. Odland Scholar (2006–2008)
  • UW School of Medicine Endowed Scholarship (2005–2006)


Dr. Wander's research focuses on the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes and related cardiometabolic conditions, with an emphasis on contributing mechanisms. Her work is translational and highly multi-disciplinary, integrating epidemiology, bench science, and clinical science. This collaborative approach is a great strength of the research program she has developed.

Dr. Wander and her team have characterized circulating microRNA (miRNA) signatures of cardiometabolic phenotypes including gestational diabetes, pre-pregnancy obesity, type 2 diabetes, and most recently polycystic ovary syndrome. Across these analyses, they demonstrated associations with miRNAs that are members of the miR-17/92 cluster or one of its paralogues. These miRNAs are highly conserved and regulate genes critical to cell death and proliferation. Their functions are not well characterized in the insulin-producing cells of the pancreatic islet. Therefore, in parallel with the human studies, Dr. Wander works closely with islet biologists to examine the role of these and other miRNAs in insulin secretion and beta-cell survival in the islet in vitro. This work is an important step in the development of plasma miRNAs as functional biomarkers for use in precision medicine in cardiometabolic disease.

During the pandemic, Dr. Wander and her collaborators have examined the link between COVID-related morbidity/mortality and type 2 diabetes risk. This includes several large-scale epidemiological studies of the contribution of diabetes to short-term adverse outcomes after COVID as well as the first large-scale epidemiological study of incident diabetes after SARS-CoV-2 infection in U.S. adults. More recently, they are looking at long-term trajectories of individuals with diabetes after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Dr. Wander has a long-standing interest in the relationship between body composition and type 2 diabetes risk. Her team has investigated the role of anthropometric measures including lower hand-grip strength and accumulation of visceral fat over time, which they were among the first to link prospectively to the development of diabetes. Because of the importance of visceral fat in the pathogenesis of diabetes, the research team developed an index to estimate visceral fat area from clinical and demographic data. More recently, Dr. Wander has examined blood-based biomarkers that might serve as proxies for body composition measures such as waist circumference when these are not available. For example, she and her team found that a panel of plasma amino acids performs similarly to waist circumference in the estimation of visceral fat area and may be useful in epidemiological cohorts when anthropometric measurements are not available.

Dr. Wander also has an interest in the science of human research ethics, especially when this knowledge can be used to inform practices around informed consent and the conduct of human subjects research. Her team used data from the Dispatcher Assisted Resuscitation Trial to demonstrate that 911 dispatchers were more likely to offer CPR instructions during an ongoing trial of CPR interventions than during the period immediately before and after the trial, demonstrating an indirect benefit of emergency research done under exception from informed consent (EFIC).


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