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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.

Interested in the gut microbiome? Watch this great video!

Recent Press

Fat cat? Here’s how much to feed to lose weight

Swanson honored as The Kraft Heinz Company Professor in Human Nutrition

Search and rescue dogs do their jobs despite travel stress

Researchers develop new treatment for reducing inflammation, treating obesity-related diseases

Shift in gut bacteria observed in fiber supplement study may offer good news for weight loss

Smaller meals more times per day may curb obesity in cats

Is pet ownership sustainable?  

Molecular techniques are man’s new best friend in pet obesity research

Scientist seeks help in learning about digestive microbes

Dietary fiber alters gut bacteria, supports gastrointestinal health

Kittens:  their microbiomes are what they eat

Researchers use pyrosequencing to study canine intestinal bacteria