Research

New Mechanisms of Obesity

The prevalence of obesity represents a major threat to human health globally. Obesity substantially increases the risk of various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. The preponderance of evidence supports a model in which susceptibility to obesity is largely determined by genetic factors, while the environment determines expression of phenotype.

World map with countries colored to indicate prevalence of obesity, with the United States and Middle East showing the highest rates. Sub-Saharan Africa, China, and India show the lowest rates.
Worldwide prevalence of obesity by nation (2016 data).

We recently used a forward genetic screening platform, coupled with automated meiotic mapping, to identify genes that limit obesity. The screening and automated meiotic mapping ascribed obesity phenotypes to numerous genes—some previously associated with obesity and others not.

Mouse forward genetic screen of obesity.
Mouse forward genetic screen of obesity.

We are studying these new genes with various biochemical approaches and mouse models to find new mechanisms of obesity.