DRC Trainee Katie Markan Receives a KO1 Grant from the National Institutes of Health

Kathleen Markan who is completing a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of FOEDRC member Dr. Matthew Potthoff was recently awarded a K01 Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She will receive $526,191 over 4 years of the award. Dr. Markan will be joining the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology.

The Proposal is entitled: “A Novel Mechanism to Increase the Beiging of White Adipose Tissue”

Obesity is characterized by excessive accumulation of fat tissue which occurs when energy storage exceeds energy expenditure. In turn, this can result in the deposition of lipid in non-adipose organs precipitating many of the adverse health outcomes associated with the condition. Therefore, methods of increasing energy expenditure in fat tissue could offer new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of obesity. Beige adipocytes are specialized fat cells found within white fat depots that become activated in response to various stimuli such as cold exposure. Activated beige adipocytes express a protein known as uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) which essentially allows excess energy, such as glucose and lipid, to be dissipated as heat. Accordingly, beige adipocytes could be harnessed as a means to essentially burn off excess energy and prevent excessive fat accumulation. However, little is known regarding the development of these specialized fat cells. In this regard, the transcription factor TBX1 has been identified in beige adipocytes; yet, nothing is known regarding its metabolic or transcriptional role. To begin to address this, we have generated novel in vivo models in which we have deleted or overexpressed TBX1 in a fat cell specific manner. Our studies will unite advanced physiological techniques and large scale molecular and bioinformatic analysis in order to determine the role of TBX1 in the development and metabolism of beige adipocytes. Collectively, our studies will provide immediate and long-term information regarding the role of TBX1 in beige adipocytes which in turn may provide clinically relevant insight regarding the development and potential treatment of obesity.

Congratulations Katie!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016