The major objective of the research in my lab is to identify the mechanisms that underlie the various effects of nutrient intake on the growth and function of skeletal muscle. In the perinatal period, skeletal muscle is the fastest growing protein pool in the body and, thus, is highly dependent on nutrient supply and the ability to use dietary nutrients efficiently. Thus, one of my research interests is to understand how nutrients regulate the primary anabolic processes responsible for muscle growth, i.e., protein synthesis and satellite cell replication during this period. Recently, this has extended to research on the consequences of Duchenne muscular dystrophy for skeletal muscle and whole body protein metabolism with the goal of identifying the contribution of protein and energy intakes on the progression of the disease, especially in its early stages.
A second research interest is rooted in the observation that a brief period of growth retardation during a critical period of development results in a lifelong deficit in muscle mass and exercise capacity. We are conducting research to understand why this happens and to identify interventions that can reverse the muscle deficit and improve exercise performance.
We perform studies using the mouse and the newborn piglet as animal models, together with a wide array of techniques including in vivo tracer kinetics, in vivo metabolic measurements, an assortment of molecular biology techniques, microscopy, cell culture, and muscle physiology measurements to address these research questions.