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Margarita Teran-Garcia

Margarita Teran-Garcia, MD, PhD, FTOS
Assistant Dean for Integrated Health Disparities Programs

2103 N. Dunlap Ave. Champaign IL 61820

Program Areas
Extension Administration and Leadership
Integrated Health Disparities

Dr. Terán conducts transdisciplinary research on obesity and other nutrition-related diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, among low-income populations. She works on promoting health and wellness among families of Hispanic-heritage and translates evidence-based science to community-based programs that serve children and families in need. Her aim is to better understand the biological and psychological dimensions that could be modified in individuals and families, to tailor more efficient and practical interventions to prevent obesity and chronic diseases.


  • Ph.D., 2001, University of Texas at Austin
  • Pediatric Speciality, 1995, National Institute of Pediatrics, Mexico City, Mexico
  • M.D., 1989, National Autonomous University, UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico


Dr. Teran-Garcia obtained her M.D. from the National University Autonomous of Mexico, UNAM, and did her pediatric residency at the National Institute of Pediatrics in Mexico. In 2001, she received her Ph.D. in Metabolism/Nutrient-gene interactions form the University of Texas at Austin under the mentorship of Prof. Steven D. Clarke. After completing her post-doctoral training with Prof. Claude Bouchard at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, she continued her work as an Associate Scientist in the Human Genomics Laboratory and as Co-Director of the Cell Culture Core Facility. Dr. Teran-Garcia has experience in clinical nutrition, nutrigenetics, and childhood obesity. In August of 2008, she joined the faculty of Food Science and Human Nutrition as an Assistant Professor in Nutrition. She served as chair of the Latin American Affairs Section and as elected Council at-large of The Obesity Society (2011-2017).


Human nutrition; gene- nutrient interactions of humans; the role of genetic and environmental influences on the development of obesity.

Obesity and its related diseases are now a worldwide health and socio-economical burden. Although it is likely that the growing epidemic of obesity is primarily related to unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, heritability studies indicate that genetic factors account for 30 to 70% of the predisposition to excessive weight gain. Despite the progress in identifying some monogenic causes of obesity, the progress in defining the genetic basis of common obesity has been proven to be a complex task. Obesity increases the risk of developing diseases such as insulin resistance and diabetes, altered lipoprotein metabolism, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. These obesity-related diseases have also a genetic component.

The goal of my research is to expand on the knowledge of gene-environment interactions. Our individual genetic profile interacts with the environment to allow a gene or groups of genes in different metabolic pathways to adapt to changes in diet or exercise and many other environmental factors, to maintain a healthy status. As we understand more about gene-environment interactions, individualized recommendations for preventing obesity and obesity-related diseases will become more accessible and reliable.

My research group investigates nutrient-gene, exercise-gene and other gene-environment interactions in children and adults from diverse populations. We will use high-throughput systems to genotype markers and real-time RT-PCR for gene expression analysis. These data will be integrated with anthropometric measurements, life-style factors and blood metabolic profiles to investigate genetic associations. We intend to use these techniques to identify genes that might be associated with obesity and related diseases. Our goal is to find early diagnosis markers that will help in the development of effective and individualized interventions directed at preventing childhood and adult obesity, and the morbidity due to obesity-related diseases.



  • Teran-Garcia M., T. Rankinen, C. Bouchard. (2008) Genes, exercise, growth and the sedentary, obese child. J. Appl. Physiol. 105:988-1001.
  • Teran-Garcia M., J.P. DesprTs, A. Tremblay, and C. Bouchard. (2008) Effects of Cholesterol Ester Transfer Protein (CETP) gene polymorphisms on adiposity in response to long-term overfeeding in identical twins. Atherosclerosis 196(1):455-460.
  • Teran-Garcia M. and C. Bouchard. (2007) Genetics of the metabolic syndrome. Rev. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 32:89-114.
  • Teran-Garcia M., T. Rankinen, T. Rice, A.S. Leon, D.C. Rao, J.S. Skinner and C. Bouchard. (2007) Variations of the four and a half LIM domain 1 gene (FHL1) are associated with fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity responses to regular exercise. Diabetologia 50(9):1858-66.
  • Redman L.M., M. Teran-Garcia and E. Ravussin. (2007) Preventing metabolic syndrome: Diet, exercise, both or more? Review of Endocrinology 23-25.
  • Teran-Garcia M., N. Santoro, T. Rankinen, J. Bergeron, T. Rice, A.S. Leon, D.C. Rao, J.S. Skinner, J.H. Wilmore, R.N. Bergman, J.P. DesprTs, and C. Bouchard. (2005) Hepatic lipase gene variant -514C>T is associated with lipoprotein and insulin sensitivity response to regular exercise: The HERITAGE Family Study. Diabetes 54(7):2251-2255.