An investigation into brown adipose tissue development using a range of non-invasive techniques to assess its thermogenic response to dietary and thermal challenges in children and adults together with the influence of gender and current body weight. These studies will be complemented by animal studies in which the influence of environmental challenges on the short and long term recruitment of brown fat thermogenesis will be examined.
An investigation into the impact of maternal body weight and diabetes on the placenta with regard to its ability to partition nutrients to the fetus. This will focus on energy sensing, mitochondrial function, lipid and carbohydrate handling and the extent to which changes in placental function may contribute to increased fat mass in the offspring. These studies will be complemented by animal studies in which the influence of maternal weight loss during pregnancy on placental function will be examined.
- Integration of basic and clinical science.
- Physiology, molecular biology and epigenetics
Infrastructure and resources:
Our multi-disciplinary research group utilises a range of human, large and small animal and in vitro models aimed at examining the impact of changes in the early life environment on later health and disease. We are thus focussed on a range of organ systems and physiological control mechanisms ranging from adipose tissue, the brain, heart, gut, heart, kidney, liver and lung. The pathways currently being examined include growth, metabolism, inflammation, appetite control, cardio-respiratory function and epigenetic regulation. These adopt a developmental focus in order to elucidate the extent to which changes in the metabolic environment in early life may reset growth of a particular organ such that offspring is at increased risk of metabolic disease in later life. For example, it is known that brown adipose tissue has a unique role in enabling the newborn to effectively adapt to the cold challenge of the extrauterine environment, but given the more recent discovery that brown fat persists into adulthood an increased understanding of the mechanism by which this tissue is recruited at birth may have important implications for energy metabolism in adults. This is important in the context of the current obesity epidemic for which we have developed a range of unique models aimed at examining the influence of diet in early life on later responsiveness to obesity together with the extent to which this may be further determined by gender. Fellows joining our group will thus join an established and expanding group of young, enthusiastic and highly productive clinical and basic scientists that are well funded and will, therefore, have direct access to a range of unique laboratory facilities.
Principal Investigator(s) available:
Professor Michael Symonds