Barbara Bendlin

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Professor of Medicine and Director of UW-Madison Neuroscience and Public Policy Program


Work in my lab has determined that insulin resistance in midlife is associated with brain changes including longitudinal brain atrophy, reduced cerebral glucose utilization, and altered brain blood flow. We suspect that insulin resistance contributes to dementia risk via vascular pathways, in addition to contributing to neurodegeneration and potentially exacerbating Alzheimer’s disease pathology. A pilot clinical trial in my lab centered on insulin resistance (NCT03117829) and the brain, suggests that reversing pre-diabetes through a lifestyle intervention is feasible among middle-aged adults and improves brain blood flow. In addition to insulin resistance, we have examined related conditions such as metabolic syndrome and obesity, and I have collaborated extensively with investigators leading the UW-Madison caloric restriction study to understand how metabolic dysfunction impacts the brain. Additionally, my lab has an active research program on gut microbiome, which is altered in type 2 diabetes. Finally, my work on type 2 diabetes has been facilitated through my collaboration with investigators leading the Israel Diabetes and Cognitive Decline study.