U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 Contact Info

Tel: 301-827-4202
Email: ouwerkerkr@mail.nih.gov

 Select Experience

  • Ph.D.Heamatolgy Department, School of Medicine, State University Utrecht, the Netherlands1989
  • M.S.Department of Chemistry, State University Utrecht, the Netherlands1986
  • B.S.Department of Chemistry, State University Utrecht, the Netherlands1984

 Related Links


Ronald Ouwerkerk, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist, Biomedical and Metabolic Imaging Branch

Specialties: Biomedical Engineering/Biophysics/Physics, Chemistry/Chemical Biology, Medical Imaging and Magnetic Resonance Imaging​​​​​​

Ronald Ouwerkerk, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist
  • Biomedical Engineering/Biophysics/Physics
  • Chemistry/Chemical Biology
  • Medical Imaging and Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Research Summary/In Plain Language

Research Summary

Research Goal

We hope to learn how metabolic and physiological changes are caused by obesity.

Current Research

​I use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study how metabolic changes in humans may lead to a set of increased risk factors.  These risk factors are referred to collectively as metabolic syndrome, and they can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.  We measure visceral fat and the fat content of the heart, liver, and various muscle types and correlate these measurements with metabolic and physiological markers, including body mass index, cardiac function, insulin resistance, and blood lipid profiles.  By scanning a large and diverse number of subjects, we hope to separate differences in fat metabolism related to race, ethnicity, age, and gender from the underlying common sequence of events that lead to cardiovascular problems or metabolic abnormalities.  We augment this effort by also studying metabolites in the liver and muscle of subjects with known abnormalities associated with fat metabolism such as lipodystrophy, or the inability to generate fatty tissue.

Applying our Research

The knowledge gained from our research may tell us about possible early warning signs that may help us save patients before obesity causes irreparable damage.

Need for Further Study

The metabolic switches in the pancreas govern the way dietary fat and sugar intake is handled and how energy reserves are stored in body fat or the liver. Noninvasive study of the metabolic changes in the liver and pancreas in response to acute or long-term changes in dietary intake may help us understand how this works and how this mechanism is changed with obesity.​​​