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).
- Wander PL, Hayashi T, Sato KK, Uehara S, Hikita Y, Leonetti DL, Kahn SE, Fujimoto WY, Boyko EJ. Design and validation of a novel estimator of visceral adipose tissue area and comparison to existing adiposity surrogates. J Diabetes Complications. 2018 Nov;32(11):1062-1067. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2018.09.004. Epub 2018 Sep 11.
- Wander PL, Boyko EJ, Hevner K, Parikh VJ, Tadesse MG, Sorensen TK, Williams MA, Enquobahrie DA. Circulating early- and mid-pregnancy microRNAs and risk of gestational diabetes. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Oct;132:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2017.07.024. Epub 2017 Jul 25.
- Enquobahrie DA, Wander PL, Tadesse MG, Qiu C, Holzman C, Williams MA. Maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index and circulating microRNAs in pregnancy. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2017 Jul – Aug;11(4):464-474. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2016.10.287. Epub 2016 Oct 24.
- Wander PL, Enquobahrie DA, Pritchard CC, McKnight B, Rice K, Christiansen M, Lemaitre RN, Rea T, Siscovick D, Sotoodehnia N. Circulating microRNAs and sudden cardiac arrest outcomes. Resuscitation. 2016 Sep;106:96-101. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2016.06.038. Epub 2016 Jul 14.
- Badon SE, Wander PL, Qiu C, Miller RS, Williams MA, Enquobahrie DA. Maternal Leisure Time Physical Activity and Infant Birth Size. Epidemiology. 2016 Jan;27(1):74-81. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000399.
- Wander PL, Sitlani CM, Badon SE, Siscovick DS, Williams MA, Enquobahrie DA. Associations of Early and Late Gestational Weight Gain with Infant Birth Size. Matern Child Health J. 2015 Nov;19(11):2462-9. doi: 10.1007/s10995-015-1765-3.
- Wander PL, Hochner H, Sitlani CM, Enquobahrie DA, Lumley T, Lawrence GM, Burger A, Savitsky B, Manor O, Meiner V, Hesselson S, Kwok PY, Siscovick DS, Friedlander Y. Maternal genetic variation accounts in part for the associations of maternal size during pregnancy with offspring cardiometabolic risk in adulthood. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 26;9(3):e91835. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091835. eCollection 2014.
- Lawrence GM, Shulman S, Friedlander Y, Sitlani CM, Burger A, Savitsky B, Granot-Hershkovitz E, Lumley T, Kwok PY, Hesselson S, Enquobahrie D, Wander PL, Manor O, Siscovick DS, Hochner H. Associations of maternal pre-pregnancy and gestational body size with offspring longitudinal change in BMI. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Apr;22(4):1165-71. doi: 10.1002/oby.20643. Epub 2013 Dec 5.
- Wander PL, Boyko EJ, Leonetti DL, McNeely MJ, Kahn SE, Fujimoto WY. Change in visceral adiposity independently predicts a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes over 10 years in Japanese Americans. Diabetes Care. 2013 Feb;36(2):289-93. doi: 10.2337/dc12-0198. Epub 2012 Sep 10.
- Wander PL, Boyko EJ, Leonetti DL, McNeely MJ, Kahn SE, Fujimoto WY. Greater hand-grip strength predicts a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes over 10 years in leaner Japanese Americans. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 May;92(2):261-4. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2011.01.007. Epub 2011 Feb 1.