“Iowa City is a great little town with lots of character. It is the perfect place to be a graduate student!”
Neurobiology of Metabolism and Cardiovascular Function
The work in my laboratory is focused on the neurobiology of metabolism, energy homeostasis and cardiovascular function and related disorders such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The central nervous system is a major player in the regulation of energy homeostasis as well as cardiovascular system. Our research is aimed at the identification of the neuroanatomical and molecular pathways involved in the regulation of metabolic, autonomic and cardiovascular functions. We also investigate the dysregulation of these pathways in disease condition such us obesity and diabetes. The lab uses multidisciplinary approaches including basic research tools, genetic models and sophisticated physiological techniques that allow us to address physiological questions at the molecular level. There are currently several ongoing studies aimed at elucidating the intracellular pathways involved in the central nervous system control of energy homeostasis and autonomic cardiovascular function by insulin and adipocyte-derived hormone, leptin. Specifically, we are focused at understanding the exact role of the different downstream pathways associated with the insulin and leptin receptors in the regulation of the physiological cues. For these studies, we rely on mouse models that have deletion is specific intracellular signaling pathways. We also use the Cre-LoxP technology to target specific areas in the brain to delineate the neuronal architectural network that control metabolism and autonomic cardiovascular function. Disease mechanisms are investigated in animal models of obesity and diabetes such as diet-induced obesity, but also rare monogenic models including mouse models of Bardet-Biedl Syndrome that mimic the human disorders. The study of monogenic models allow us to elucidate how basic cell biological mechanisms conserved in all organisms (i.e. intracellular transport and cilia function) and complex phenotypes (such as obesity and hypertension) that result when these mechanisms are perturbed.