Our laboratory uses genomic biology to study nutrition-related problems in the areas of 'obesity' and 'intestinal health'. Both comparative and applied nutrition research projects are performed in our laboratory, including those studying human subjects, dogs, cats, and animal models (e.g., rodents).
A primary aim of our laboratory is to study the gastrointestinal microbiota and how they are impacted by environmental factors and host age. DNA-based techniques [e.g., quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR); 454-pyrosequencing; Illumina sequencing] are currently being used. Current projects are testing how diet (e.g., protein: carbohydrate ratio; prebiotics; novel fibers; resistant starch) manipulate the fecal microbiome and how age (e.g., youth vs. adults vs. geriatrics) impacts the oral and/or fecal microbiome.
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 DNA microarrays, qRT-PCR, and RNA-Seq are used to identify mechanisms or metabolic pathways affected in key metabolic tissues. Adipose and skeletal muscle tissues play important roles in energy homeostasis and glucose and lipid metabolism and are the focus of several ongoing projects.