Michael C.K. Khoo,

PhD, Biomedical Engineering Dept.,

University of Southern California, Los Angeles. CA


Developing model-based biophysical markers for autonomic and

metabolic dysfunction in sleep apnea and obesity


Diet, physical activity, glucose-insulin control and autonomic activity are tied together in a delicate balance that, if disrupted, can lead to obesity and obesity-related disorders. Sleep apnea, which is highly prevalent in obesity, can also contribute independently to autonomic imbalance and insulin resistance. Recent studies suggest that the vicious cycle of interplay among these factors predisposes to the emergence of “metabolic syndrome”, a convergence clustering of obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia that is appearing in epidemic proportions globally. The components of metabolic syndrome individually or collectively constitute high-risk factors for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. In this seminar, Dr. Khoo will present an overview of the experimental and modeling studies in his laboratory that are aimed at elucidating and quantifying the relationships among autonomic dysfunction, insulin resistance and severity of sleep apnea in overweight subjects. These studies employ a “minimal modeling” approach to extract information characterizing autonomic function from noninvasive cardiorespiratory measurements, along with blood sampling to assess glucose-insulin regulation. In parallel, Dr. Khoo’s group is also exploring the potential mechanisms that lead to the development of metabolic syndrome by developing a large-scale simulation model that incorporates cardiorespiratory , sleep and metabolic control, as well as the interactions among these systems. The association between metabolic and autonomic dysfunction suggests the possibility of using low-cost noninvasively derived autonomic indices as a means for early detection of abnormal glucose metabolism.

Dr. Michael Khoo Autobiography

Dr. Michael Khoo is Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Pediatrics at the University of Southern California. He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. He obtained his MS and PhD degrees in bioengineering from Harvard University. Following a couple of years of postdoctoral work, he joined the faculty of the University of Southern California. He has served as Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering and Co-Director of Education and Outreach for the USC Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems Engineering Research Center. Dr. Khoo is a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and IEEE, as well as a member of the American Physiological Society, Sleep Research Society, American Heart Association, and the American Society for Engineering Education. He was a member of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) Administrative Committee and Chair of the 2012 EMBS International Conference. He is currently Vice-President for Conferences of the EMBS. He has been the recipient of an NIH Research Career Development Award and an American Lung Association Career Development Award. Dr. Khoo’s research focuses on elucidating the underlying mechanisms that lead to unstable breathing and variability in heart rate and blood pressure during sleep, and how these factors may be related to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, particularly in obese children. His laboratory is also working on the development of improved noninvasive methodologies for predicting vaso-occlusive crises in patients with sickle-cell disease. He is the author of the biomedical engineering textbook: Physiological Control Systems: Analysis, Simulation and Estimation (Piscataway, NJ: Wiley-IEEE Press, 2000).


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