Our laboratory uses genomic biology to study nutrition-related problems in the areas of obesity and gastrointestinal health. Both comparative and applied nutrition research projects are performed in our laboratory, including those studying human subjects, companion animals (e.g., dogs and cats), and traditional animal models (e.g., rodents and pigs). A primary aim of our laboratory is to study the effects of diet and age on gastrointestinal microbiota community composition and activity. DNA-based techniques [e.g., quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR); next-generation sequencing] are used in our lab. Current projects are designed to evaluate the effects of dietary fibers and prebiotics, dietary lipids, protein: carbohydrate ratio, and changes in endocrine function on gastrointestinal microbial populations. Key associations between intestinal microbiota, host physiology (e.g., metabolite profiles; tissue histology), and disease are also being studied.
Another primary area of research pertains to energy homeostasis and obesity. In addition to measuring gut peptide response to dietary manipulation, molecular techniques such as qRT-PCR, DNA microarrays, and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) are used to identify mechanisms and/or metabolic pathways affected in key metabolic tissues. Adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, and the liver play important roles in energy homeostasis and glucose and lipid metabolism, and are the focus of several ongoing projects.