Central neural circuits subserving nutrient–activated thermogenesis - the basis of post prandial energy expenditure The ability to treat overweight and obesity has been hampered by a paucity of approved therapeutic approaches. Those that have become available over recent years have targeted appetite and food intake. In conjunction with lifestyle modifications these provide a modest weight loss, generally between 5-10%. One of the most rapidly developing areas of obesity research over that same period has been into the other side of the energy balance equation, focusing on the potential of brown adipose tissue (BAT) to elevate energy expenditure and reduce body weight. This lab has been part of that “renaissance” in brown fat biology and has provided essential insights into the central neural circuitry subserving BAT activation. These projects will investigate one of the most fundamental aspects of the function of BAT, namely the means by which it is recruited after a meal. Diet-induced thermogenesis along with that recruited in response to cold represents the principle means via which BAT is physiologically activated. An understanding of the detail of the brain circuitry involved in nutrient activated thermogenesis will potentially enable a manipulation of this form of energy expenditure and promote better metabolic outcomes. The means by which dedicated circuits directed to BAT can be recognized and the ability to manipulate those parts of the circuitry that are responsive to nutrient intake form the basis for these projects. Specifically, this project aims to evaluate, using in vivo chemogenetic and optogenetic techniques, the importance of specific brain relays in postprandial recruitment of BAT.
obesity, diabetes, energy expenditure, appetite, central neural pathways, brown fat, chemogenetics, optogenetics, physiology
Biomedicine Discovery Institute (School of Biomedical Sciences) » Physiology
Masters by research
Top-up scholarship funding available