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Margarita De L Teran-Garcia

Research Assistant Professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine


Dr. Terán conducts transdisciplinary research on obesity and other nutrition-related diseases (e.g., diabetes, 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.


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).


Research Interests

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.



  • 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


Additional Campus Affiliations

Assistant Dean, Integrated Health Disparities Programs, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Research Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences
Teaching Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Translational Sciences
Affiliate, Personalized Nutrition Initiative, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Affiliate, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Recent Publications

Akingbule, O., Teran-Garcia, M., & Alston, R. (2024). Exploring the dietary practices and perceptions of African immigrants in Illinois- a qualitative study of immigrants from Nigeria and Congo. Ethnicity and Health, 29(3), 353-370.

Fabusoro, O. K., Singleton, C. R., Teran-Garcia, M., & Lara-Cinisomo, S. (2023). Predictors of Food and Water Stockpiling During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Latinos and Non-Latino Black People. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 17(4), Article E447.

Teran-Garcia, M., Hammons, A. J., Olvera, N., Greder, K., Plaza-Delrestre, M., Andrade, F. C. D., Fiese, B., & Wiley, A. R. (2023). Randomized control trial of a childhood obesity prevention family-based program: “Abriendo Caminos” and effects on BMI. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 11, Article 1137825.

Vega-Cárdenas, M., Teran-Garcia, M., Vargas-Morales, J. M., Padrón-Salas, A., & Aradillas-García, C. (2023). Visceral adiposity index is a better predictor to discriminate metabolic syndrome than other classical adiposity indices among young adults. American Journal of Human Biology, 35(2), Article e23818.

Zhou, W., VanDuyne, P., Zhang, C., Liu, Y., Riessen, R., Barragan, M., Rowitz, B. M., Teran-Garcia, M., Boppart, S. A., & Anakk, S. (2023). Pathological bile acid concentrations in chronic cholestasis cause adipose mitochondrial defects. JHEP Reports, 5(5), Article 100714.

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