Kim M. Huffman, MD, PhD

Faculty Member, Duke Molecular Physiology Institute


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


Carmichael Building

919 668 1644


Kim M. Huffman, MD, PhD is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology. Her research seeks to define the molecular mechanisms for beneficial effects of physical activity and to translate these findings to beneficial interventions for aging-related and rheumatologic diseases.

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 revolves around the following themes: molecular and metabolic benefits of exercise training; cardiometabolic risk and skeletal muscle dysfunction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA); effects of physical activity on RA; and, physical activity and caloric restriction benefits on biologic aging.

In 2002, Dr. Huffman began work with Dr. William Kraus focusing on inflammatory and metabolic predictors of skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity and responses to exercise training. With data from Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise (STRRIDE), they demonstrated that insulin resistance is related to circulating branched chain amino acids;(1) and that exercise training improves insulin sensitivity in concert with reductions in fatty acids and increases in glycine and proline (2). Drs. Huffman and Kraus continue collaborative efforts to integrate multiple exercise training intervention data ontogenies 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.

Another major research focus has been to evaluate RA cardiometabolic risk and response to exercise training. When accounting for age, gender, and body mass index, the greatest determinant of RA insulin action was body composition, specifically adiposity, rather than disease activity. Nonetheless, in collaboration with Dr. David Bartlett, we showed that despite minimal improvements on body composition, high intensity interval training improves RA disease activity, neutrophil function, and monocyte atherogenic potential. Currently, working closely with Dr. Brian Andonian, we are evaluating biomechanical properties of skeletal muscle in early RA and developing a supervised weight loss and exercise intervention (SWET) to improve RA cardiovascular risk.

Dr. Huffman along with Drs. W. Kraus and Carl Pieper coordinate the CALERIE Research Network and participate in several ongoing projects using CALERIE data and samples. Dr. Huffman’s clinical work is within the Duke Orthopedics and Sports Sciences Institute where she has developed a novel Sports Rheumatology Clinic. This clinic sees nonsurgical rheumatologic diseases presenting to orthopedics as well as athletes with rheumatologic diseases requesting advice on safe physical activity. In these clinics, Dr. Huffman’s treatment approach emphasizes rehabilitation and exercise training as means to rheumatologic, cardiovascular, and general health.

Dr. Huffman is co-Director of the Human Physiology Shared Resource.


Tracy Carver


Brian Andonian, MD, MHSc


Grace Link

Postdocs / Fellows

Katherine Collins, PhD

Daniel Parker, MD

Megan Ramaker, PhD

Leanna Ross, PhD

Stephan van Vliet, PhD



Collaborator Network


  • Brian Andonian, MD. Internal Medicine Resident and Rheumatology Fellow. January 2016-present.
    Mentored Project: Body composition and exercise testing in rheumatoid arthritis.
    Mentored Funding/Awards: 2016-7 Duke Faculty Resident Research Grant Recipient.
    Mentored Funding/Awards: 2018 Duke Rheumatology Rauch Scholar.
  • Daniel Parker. Second Year Geriatrics Fellow. Currently, Medical Instructor in Geriatric Medicine. July 2017-present.
    Mentored Project: Effects of exercise intensity, mode, and detraining on markers of autophagy.
    Mentored Project: Caloric restriction and exercise training effects on cognitive function.
    Mentored Project: Effects of rheumatoid arthritis on clinical and molecular aging biomarkers.
    Mentored Funding/Awards: 2018 Duke Pepper Center Pilot Funding.
    Mentored Funding/Awards: 2019 Dementia Alliance of North Carolina.
  • Alyssa Calland. Third Year Medical Student. October 2018-June 2019. Currently, Fourth year medical student, Duke University School of Medicine.
    Mentored Project: Neurocognitive Response Differences with Exercise Intensity in Anorexia Nervosa.
    Mentored Project: Personality Characteristics Associated with Reporting Abnormal Eating Behaviors to Lose Weight.
  • Stephan van Vliet. Post-Doctoral Fellow. Duke Molecular Physiology Institute. January 2019-present.
  • Alec Koss.
    Mentored Project:RA muscle mitochondrial function.