July 2011 - Rawls lab postdoctoral fellow James Minchin is awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, and John Rawls is awarded a R56 grant from NIH to study mechanisms underlying the development of white adipose depots.
Primary prevention of obesity is an important public health goal because obesity is increasingly common, associated with morbidity, and difficult to treat. Obesity develops when excess energy accumulates as fat within white adipose depots. It is known, however, that critical periods in the development of obesity occur during prenatal and early postnatal life. Adipose depot growth during prenatal and early postnatal stages is strongly influenced by the nutritional environment, and fat mass at these early stages is positively correlated with adiposity in later life. Manipulation of adipose depot development therefore represents an attractive strategy for obesity prevention.
These two recent awards to members of the Rawls lab support their efforts to exploit the unique advantages of the zebrafish model to define the cellular interactions, lineage contributions, and nutritional regulation underlying morphogenesis of adipose depots. The identification of the mechanisms governing adipose depot morphogenesis will provide novel strategies for preventing obesity and associated morbidities by controlling the formation of specific adipose depots.