Theresa D'Aquila

Theresa D'Aquila  Profile Picture

Mentor / Lab:
Kim Buhman

Specific Research Area / Project:
Lipid droplet proteomics

Undergraduate Institution:
College of the Holy Cross

Research Profile:

My research focuses on understanding the process of dietary fat absorption and metabolism in the small intestine. Dietary fat absorption is a highly efficient, although not well understood process. After consuming a high fat meal, dietary triglycerides can be temporarily stored in enterocytes, the absorptive cells of the small intestine. Triglycerides are stored in lipid droplets, which are surrounded by a coat of proteins that are thought to regulate the storage and mobilization of the triglyceride. The regulation of triglyceride storage and mobilization is thought to regulate the quantity and rate of triglyceride secretion into circulation following a high fat meal. The blood triglyceride response following a meal has significant impact on the development and progression of chronic metabolic diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

My project focuses on the identification of regulators of lipid droplet metabolism. In order to identify these proteins, I am using a discovery based proteomic analyses of isolated lipid droplets from mouse enterocytes following a high fat meal. The identification of lipid droplet proteins will help increase our understanding of the mechanisms behind lipid trafficking and metabolism in the small intestine. These proteins serve as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity and other metabolic diseases.

About Me:

Theresa D'Aquila  About Me Picture

My interest in science stems from running around the woods behind my house as a child and flipping over rocks to see what lies beneath. Now, that backyard is the lab and the rocks are proteomic profiles of lipid droplets. I am using the tools that I have gained along the way. Starting with a “never stop exploring” attitude I got from my parents, to lab skills gained during my undergrad research at Holy Cross and while working at Pfizer. In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, and being in the outdoors.


  • Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs, Most Outstanding Interdisciplinary Award, Honorable Mention 2014
  • Certificate of Excellence, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Presentation in Nutrition, Purdue Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Spring Session 2014
  • Sigma Xi Poster Symposium, Purdue University, 2013 poster 2nd place winner
  • Chronic Diseases Poster Symposium, Purdue University, 2012 poster 2nd place winner
  • Obesity and Cancer Research Symposium, Purdue University, 2012 poster winner
  • Purdue Research Fellowship 2012-present
  • Lynn Fellowship, Purdue University 2011- 2012


  • Erion DM, Lapworth A, Amor PA, Bai G, Vera NB, Clark RW, Yan Q, Zhu Y, Ross TT, Purkal J, Gorgoglione M, Zhang G, Bonato V, Baker L, Barucci N, D'Aquila T, Robertson A, Aiello RJ, Yan J, Trimmer J, Rolph TP, Pfefferkorn JA. (2014) The Hepatoselective Glucokinase Activator PF-04991532 Ameliorates Hyperglycemia without Causing Hepatic Steatosis in Diabetic Rats. PLoS One. 2014 May 23;9(5):e97139. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097139. eCollection 2014.
  • Kris A. Borzilleri, Jeffrey A. Pfefferkorn, Angel Guzman-Perez, Shenping Liu, Xiayang Qiu, Boris A. Chrunyk, Xi Song, Meihua Tu, Kevin J. Filipski, Robert Aiello, David R. Derksen, Francis J. Bourbonais, James Landro, Patricia Bourassa, Theresa D'Aquila, Levenia Baker, Nicole Barrucci, John Litchfield, Karen Atkinson, Timothy P. Rolph and Jane M. Withka. (2014) Optimizing glucokinase activator binding kinetics to lower in vivo hypoglycemia risk. Med. Chem. Commun., 2014,5, 802-807
  • Pfefferkorn JA, Tu M, Filipski KJ, Guzman-Perez A, Bian J, Aspnes GE, Sammons MF, Song W, Li JC, Jones CS, Patel L, Rasmusson T, Zeng D, Karki K, Hamilton M, Hank R, Atkinson K, Litchfield J, Aiello R, Baker L, Barucci N, Bourassa P, Bourbonais F, D'Aquila T, Derksen DR, MacDougall M, Robertson A. (2012) The design and synthesis of indazole and pyrazolopyridine based glucokinase activators for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. Dec 1;22(23):7100-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.09.082. Epub 2012 Sep 29.
  • Pfefferkorn J, Guzman-Perez A, Litchfield J, Aiello R, Treadway J, Pettersen J, Minich M, Filipski K, Jones C, Tu M, Aspnes G, Risley H, Bian J, Stevens B, Bourassa P, D’Aquila T, Baker L, Barucci N, Robertson A, Bourbonais F, Derksen D, MacDougall M, Cabrera O, Chen J, Lapworth A, Landro J, Zavadoski W, Atkinson K, Haddish-Berhane N, Tan B, Yao L, Kosa R, Varma M, Feng B, Duignan D, El-Kattan A, Murdande S, Liu S, Ammirati M, Knafels J, DaSilva-Jardine P, Sweet L, Liras S, and Rolph T. (2012) Discovery of (S)-6-(3-Cyclopentyl-2-(4-(trifluoromethyl)-1H-imidazol-1-yl)propanamido)nicotinic Acid as a Hepatoselective Glucokinase Activator Clinical Candidate for Treating Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Epub ahead of print
  • Pfefferkorn J, Guzman-Perez A, Oates P, Litchfield J, Aspnes G, Basak A, Benbow J, Berliner M, Bian J, Choi C, Freeman-Cook K, Corbett J, Didiuk M, Dunetz J, Filipski K, Hungerford W, Jones C, Karki K, Ling A, Li J, Patel L, Perreault C, Risley H, Saenz J, Song W, Tu M, Aiello R, Atkinson K, Barucci N, Beebe D, Bourassa P, Bourbounais F, Brodeur A, Burbey R, Chen J, D'Aquila T, Derksen D, Haddish-Berhane N, Huang C, Landro J, Lapworth A, MacDougall M, Perregaux D, Pettersen J, Robertson A, Tan B, Treadway J, Liu S, Qiu X, Knafels J, Ammirati M, Song X, DaSilva-Jardine P, Liras S, Sweet L and Rolph T. (2011) Designing glucokinase activators with reduced hypoglycemia risk: discovery of N,N-dimethyl-5-(2-methyl-6-((5-methylpyrazin-2-yl)-carbamoyl)benzofuran-4-yloxy)pyrimidine-2-carboxamide as a clinical candidate for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Med. Chem. Commun., 2011, 2, 828-839.


  • Theresa D'Aquila and Kimberly K. Buhman "Differential expression of enterocyte cytoplasmic lipid droplet proteins in response to a dietary fat challenge in lean and obese mice" - FASEB Summer Conference Series, Saxton River, VT, 2014 | Chronic Diseases Poster Symposium, Purdue University, 2014
  • Theresa D'Aquila, Devika Sirohi, Richard J. Kuhn, and Kimberly K. Buhman "The characterization of cytoplasmic lipid droplets in enterocytes in response to dietary fat" - Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs Spring reception, Purdue University 2014 | Experimental Biology, Boston MA 2013 | Sigma Xi Poster Symposium, Purdue University, 2013 | Chronic Diseases Poster Symposium, Purdue University, 2012 | Obesity and Cancer Research Symposium, Purdue University, 2012


  • Purdue Outing Club

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