The research in our laboratory integrates the interdisciplinary fields of animal nutrition, immunophysiology, and neuroscience, including the ability of nutrients to impact metabolic, immunologic, and developmental patterns. We focus on comparative animal nutrition, with an emphasis on biochemical aspects of proteins and amino acids, but also strive to integrate immunological and behavioral outcomes as related to overall animal health. One notable project in our lab is the use of a translational piglet model for studying the impact of nutrient intake and infection during the neonatal period on brain development and cognitive function (i.e., learning and memory). Overall, research projects in this laboratory can be broadly categorized into two areas: 1) practical nutrition issues facing animal agriculture, and 2) fundamental nutrition questions studied using translational animal models to improve human/animal health and well-being.
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In a recent review article published in Advances in Nutrition, Ryan Dilger, a U of I animal scientist and Austin Mudd, a doctoral student in the neuroscience program, provide background for the work they do with nutrition and neurodevelopment using the piglet as a model.
The new paper highlights several studies on pediatric nutrition of which brain development outcomes were the primary interest. The paper also describes technologies, including advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), that are being used to assess brain development, as well as outlines areas for future nutrition and neurodevelopment research.
Advances in Nutrition Publication: http://advances.nutrition.org/content/8/1/92