Kim M. Huffman, MD, PhD

Faculty Member, Duke Molecular Physiology Institute

Position

Associate Professor Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology Duke University Medical Center

Contact

Carmichael Building

919 668 1644

kim.huffman@duke.edu

Summary

Kim M. Huffman, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and a staff physician at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Huffman's research interests are at the intersection of aging, inflammation, metabolism, skeletal muscle, and physical activity. An ultimate goal is to develop evidenced-based exercise interventions for persons with rheumatologic disease, specifically osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, her research aims to improve understanding of the many molecular, inflammatory, and metabolic changes within skeletal muscle that occur with both aging and disease, and how physical activity might be used best to counteract these changes. 

MD, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
PhD, Medical Scientist Training Program, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
MHSc, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC

Dr. Huffman’s research interests are at the intersection of physical activity, inflammation, metabolism, aging, and skeletal muscle.  An ultimate goal is to develop evidenced-based exercise interventions for persons with rheumatologic disease, specifically osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Additionally, her research aims to improve understanding of the many molecular, inflammatory and metabolic changes within skeletal muscle that that occur with both aging and disease, and how physical activity might be used best to counteract these changes.

Since 2004, Dr. Huffman has worked with Dr. William Kraus focusing on inflammatory and metabolic predictors of skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity and responses to exercise training.   Using data from Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise (STRRIDE), Drs. Huffman, Kraus and others have shown that the degree of insulin resistance corresponds to amounts of circulating branched chain amino acids (1).  Additionally, they found that exercise training improves insulin sensitivity in concert with reductions in fatty acids as well as increases in the amino acids, glycine and proline (2).  Dr. Huffman’s ongoing collaborations with Dr. W. Kraus involve integration and analysis of multiple data types, including physiologic, genetic, metabolic, and skeletal muscle molecular data.  This work will contribute to understanding how multi-systemic responses to exercise training lead to improved cardio-metabolic health.

In collaboration with the Duke Division of Rheumatology, Dr. Huffman is investigating mechanisms of skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity in persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  When matched for age, gender, and body mass index, persons with RA were similarly inactive, both groups being almost entirely sedentary.  Also, when matched for age, gender, and body mass index, persons with RA has similar levels of insulin resistance, and the greatest determinant of insulin action in those with RA was body composition rather than disease activity.  Additional analyses from this investigation are ongoing.

Dr. Huffman works closely with a number of members of the Duke Center for Aging and the Duke Pepper Center including Drs. Virginia Kraus, Harvey Cohen, Miriam Morey, Carl Pieper, Katherine Hall, Gerda Fillenbaum, and Matthew Peterson.  This work has focused on inflammatory and metabolic markers of osteoarthritis and functional decline (3,4).  As one example, using the Duke Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE), these collaborative efforts found that soluble vascular cellular adhesion molecule (s-VCAM) was related to degree of functional limitation and was a short-term predictor of mortality independent of a number of previously reported markers (5).

Dr. Huffman’s clinical work is performed as part of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  Dr. Huffman directs a Musculoskeletal Medicine Clinic for regional musculoskeletal disease and maintains a weekly continuity clinic for persons with rheumatologic disease.  In these clinics, Dr. Huffman’s treatment approach emphasizes rehabilitation and exercise training as means to rheumatologic, cardiovascular, and general health. Additionally, these clinics serve as a site for clinic teaching for a number of Internal Medicine Residents, Geriatrics Fellows, and Rheumatology Fellows.  

 

Collaborators

Collaborator Network
 

Trainees

Yuxuan Hu
Work study research assistant, Duke University Senior, August 2007-May2008
PhD Biomechanical Engineering, 2014 Johns Hopkins
Currently, 2nd year medical student, University of Chicago
 
Annie Kim
Undergraduate Independent Study, Honors, Duke University, Junior and Senior, August 2007-April 2009
Project: Fatty acid metabolism after glucose stimulation
MD Washington University, 2014
Currently, Internal Medicine Resident, NYU
 
Stacy Kennedy, MD
Rheumatology Fellow, DUMC August 2008-June 2009
Project: Objective and subjective physical activity in systemic lupus erythematosus
Currently, private practice rheumatologist, Salisbury, NC.
 
Tony Ning, MD
Arthritis Foundation Clinical to Research Award
Rheumatology Fellow, DUMC July 2010-June 2012
Projects: Objectively measured physical activity and uric acid and Uric acid in osteoarthritis
Currently, private practice rheumatologist, Durham, NC.
 
Charles Withers, MD
Rheumatology Fellow, DUMC February-June 2013
Currently, private practice rheumatologist, Salisbury, NC.
 
Julie McCracken
Research Assistant. May-June 2008
Project: TLR-4 in rheumatoid arthritis skeletal muscle
Currently, medical volunteer
 
K. Noelle Tune
Medical Student, UNC June 2012-May2015
Project: Body composition in rheumatoid arthritis
MD UNC, 2015
July 2015, Emergency Department Resident, Indianapolis, IN.
 
Hiba AbouAssi, MD
Endocrinology Fellow, DUMC 2011-2013
Project: Insulin sensitivity and lipoproteins in rheumatoid arthritis
Currently, Endocrinology Faculty, DUMC.
 
Carl Henderson, DO
Rheumatology Fellow, DUMC February 2013-June 2014
Project: Uric acid in osteoarthritis
Currently, academic affiliated rheumatologist, Roanoke, VA.
 
Brian Gilmore, MD
Medical Student, 2012-2013
Project: Signaling molecules in rheumatoid arthritis skeletal muscle
MD DUMC 2014
Currently, General Surgery Resident, DUMC
 
Erica Peart, DO
Rheumatology Fellow, DUMC January 2014-June 2015
Project: Gene expression and coronary disease in rheumatoid arthritis
July 2015, private practice rheumatologist, Florida
 
Mehri McKellar, MD
Fellow, Duke Pepper Center Junior Faculty Awardee May 2014-present
Project: Physical performance, aging, and metabolism in HIV-1
 
Ryan Jessee, MD
Stead Resident Research Grant Recipient
Internal Medicine Resident. June 2014-present
Project: Skeletal muscle inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis
 
David Bartlett, PhD
Marie Curie Fellow August 2014-present.
Project: High intensity interval training in older adults and adults with rheumatoid arthritis
 
Rachel Narowski
Undergraduate Biology Independent Study, Duke University. January-May2015
Projec t: Skeletal muscle inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis