Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
3N11j Health Sciences Centre
905-521-2100 ext. 76213
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Obesity is one of the most significant health care issues of the 21st century
because it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and
hypertension. Obesity related dysfunction can potentially be initiated in utero.
Children of obese mothers are at a higher risk of becoming obese and developing
these risk factors later in life and this serves to further fuel the obesity
epidemic. The environment of the fetus, in the womb, may contribute to the child
being predisposed towards developing obesity related disorders as a result of
metabolic reprogramming. Mitochondria are one of the central players in cellular
metabolisms. They have been classically thought of as oval-shaped organelles
responsible for generating ATP and supplying the cells energy demands. They are so much more!
My lab focuses on understanding the role of mitochondrial
function/dysfunction in modulating uterine stress as a consequence of maternal
obesity. We focus on how physiological stressors affect mitochondrial function
and one of their primary by-products, reactive oxygen species. We are interested
in understanding the role of mitochondria in contributing to fetal stress in the
obese mother. Furthermore, we also focus on how in utero stress can affect
mitochondrial function and signaling in dictating fetal and neonatal health of
obese mothers. We utilize cell culture and animal models to understand these
processes and develop therapeutic strategies to minimize the consequences of maternal obesity on neonatal health.
The range of techniques applied in my laboratory spans molecular approaches
(advanced proteomics, RT-PCR, determination of DNA methylation patterns) to
cellular (immunological approaches to determining protein expression, enzyme
assays, live-cell microscopy, electron microscopy) to physiological methods
(evaluation of blood pressure in rodents, determination of glucose tolerance,
histology, immunochemistry). In association with clinical collaborators, the scope of the research in my group spans from molecules to humans.