Medical Student Research Fellowship for Summer 2007
Mentor: Philipp E. Scherer, PhD
Department: Internal Medicine
Room number: L5.210
Mail Code: 8549
Phone number: (214) 648-8720
Human subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable):
Animal subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): 1178-07-01A
Project Type: Animal-Based or Basic Research
Brief Description of Project:
For many years, adipose tissue has been considered to be a mere storage compartment of triglycerides. It is now clear that adipocytes are highly active endocrine and paracrine cells that play a central role in overall energy homeostasis and are important contributors to systemic inflammation. They do so by influencing lipid homeostasis, but also through the production and release of a host of adipocyte-specific and adipocyte-enriched hormonal factors, cytokines and extracellular matrix components (commonly referred to as "adipokines") that are critically involved in organ cross-talk between adipose tissue and almost every other cell type systemically.
The adipocyte is a surprisingly multifaceted cell type that exerts potent systemic effects on its own or in combination with adipose tissue macrophages and preadipocytes that are under the local hormonal influence of the adipocyte. The use of biochemical, cell biological, genetic and physiological approaches allows us to cover these phenomena from the organismal level in patients and mice to structural aspects of individual protein complexes and cellular aspects. The adipocyte as a model endocrine cell presents as vast array of unresolved questions. Employing an integral approach towards a better understanding of its transcriptional potential and its secretory apparatus offers the potential for a better understanding of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, which comprise some of the most prevalent diseases in the Western world.
In this project, we will focus specifically on an important adipokine called adiponectin. This is a molecule that circulates in a number of different forms in plasma. We will analyze how this complex distribution changes under a number of physiological conditions and correlate these changes with other known parameters such as insulin sensitivity, pharmacological and genetic interventions. The primary methodology employed is gel filtration analysis using a state of the art FPLC system. In addition, some hands on mouse work and tissue culture work will also be part of the research experience.
Previous Research Activities or Publications with Medical Students: