Magdalene K. Ameka completed her graduate work in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Potthoff graduating with her PhD in August 2017. Her thesis title was "The Role of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF21) in Regulating Energy Homeostasis." Magdalene's dissertation work focused on the mechanism of FGF21 in regulating energy expenditure, body weight and glycemia in an effort to define how FGF21 has anti-obesogenic and anti-diabetic effects. Members of her thesis committee were chair, Dr. Matthew Potthoff from the department of Pharmacology, Drs. Curt Sigmund, Justin Grobe, and Anne Kwitek from the department of Pharmacology, and Frederick Domann from the department of Free Radical Biology.
Dr. Ameka received her BS in Biochemistry and Biophysical Sciences from the University of Houston and entered the Molecular and Cell Biology Program (now Molecular Medicine Program) at the University of Iowa in 2013. She officially joined the Potthoff lab in the Department of Pharmacology in 2014 to begin the Ph.D. phase of her training. Dr. Ameka will be conducting a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Alyssa Hasty at Vanderbilt University starting September 2017, where she will be investigating the role of iron handling in macrophages during obesity.
CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Ameka!
Lucas BonDurant, a graduate student in Dr. Matthew Potthoff’s laboratory, presented his research at the joint Keystone Diabetes and Adipose Tissue and Obesity Conference in Keystone Colorado. He was selected to give an oral presentation, entitled “FGF21 Acutely Enhances Insulin Sensitivity." Lucas is currently a 3rd year graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, is a Sloan Scholar, and is supported by the Pharmacology T32 Training Grant.
Kathleen Markan who is completing a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of FOEDRC member Dr. Matthew Potthoff was recently awarded a K01 Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She will receive $526,191 over 4 years of the award. Dr. Markan will be joining the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology.
The Proposal is entitled: “A Novel Mechanism to Increase the Beiging of White Adipose Tissue”
Obesity is characterized by excessive accumulation of fat tissue which occurs when energy storage exceeds energy expenditure. In turn, this can result in the deposition of lipid in non-adipose organs precipitating many of the adverse health outcomes associated with the condition. Therefore, methods of increasing energy expenditure in fat tissue could offer new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of obesity. Beige adipocytes are specialized fat cells found within white fat depots that become activated in response to various stimuli such as cold exposure. Activated beige adipocytes express a protein known as uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) which essentially allows excess energy, such as glucose and lipid, to be dissipated as heat. Accordingly, beige adipocytes could be harnessed as a means to essentially burn off excess energy and prevent excessive fat accumulation. However, little is known regarding the development of these specialized fat cells. In this regard, the transcription factor TBX1 has been identified in beige adipocytes; yet, nothing is known regarding its metabolic or transcriptional role. To begin to address this, we have generated novel in vivo models in which we have deleted or overexpressed TBX1 in a fat cell specific manner. Our studies will unite advanced physiological techniques and large scale molecular and bioinformatic analysis in order to determine the role of TBX1 in the development and metabolism of beige adipocytes. Collectively, our studies will provide immediate and long-term information regarding the role of TBX1 in beige adipocytes which in turn may provide clinically relevant insight regarding the development and potential treatment of obesity.
Magdalene Ameka, a graduate student in Dr. Matt Potthoff’s laboratory, won the People’s Choice Award at the 3 Minute Thesis Competition of the UI Graduate College. One of sixteen finalists, she competed in the final round in November in the Art Building West, presenting a talk that described her thesis research entitled “Lose the Weight by Ignoring the Fat.”
Magdalene is a third year Molecular and Cellular Biology Program graduate student doing her thesis research in Pharmacology. She came to the US from Kenya in 2006, and received a Bachelor’s degree in 2009 from the University of Houston in Biochemistry and Biophysical Sciences. She is currently working to understand how the liver-derived hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) regulates energy homeostasis. In whatever free time grad school allows her, she likes to be outdoors enjoying good food, good wine and good music.
The 3 Minute Thesis Competition challenges graduate students to communicate their research in three minutes or less in non-specialist language. Learn more about all the finalists on the finalist spotlight website.
Lucas BonDurant, a graduate student in the laboratory of Matthew Potthoff, PhD, was selected to give an oral presentation at the EMBO Conference “Neural control of metabolism and eating behavior conference” in Cascais, Portugal.
Omar Shaban, an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Matthew Potthoff, PhD, has been accepted into the Iowa Biosciences Academy (IBA). IBA is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through an Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) grant and its mission is to promote a diverse and inclusive community of undergraduate researchers with aspirations for a PhD in the biosciences. Omar’s research project will be to examine mechanisms regulating fuel utilization in adipose tissue.
Sarah Small, an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Matthew Potthoff, PhD, has been selected to receive an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship from the American Heart Association (AHA). Sarah’s research project will be to examine a novel mechanism to reverse insulin resistance.
Ms. Magdalene Ameka, a graduate student in Dr. Matthew Potthoff’s lab in the Department of Pharmacology, received a Graduate College Post-Comprehensive Research Award based on her strong academic record. Magdalene will receive a generous stipend from the Graduate College during the spring 2016 semester.
Dr. Matthew Potthoff, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, has been awarded a National Institute of Health (NIH) R01 Research Grant for his project, titled “Regulation of Carbohydrate Metabolism by FGF21 Action on Brown Adipose Tissue." The goal of this research is to determine the mechanism for the glucose lowering effects of the endocrine hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). FGF21 is currently being pursued as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of obesity and diabetes.
Kathleen R. Markan, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Matthew Potthoff, assistant professor of pharmacology has been awarded an NIH Postdoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for her project titled, “A Novel Therapeutic Approach to Combat Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease." The main objective of her project is to determine the role of Tox, a novel transcription factor, in the development of metabolic dysfunction. Dr. Markan’s studies will utilize unique genetic models and advanced radio-isotope tracer techniques to delineate the in vivo effects of Tox upon liver metabolism.
Circulating FGF21 is Liver Derived and Enhances Glucose Uptake During Refeeding and Overfeeding published in Diabetes
Matthew Potthoff, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology recently published an article in Diabetes titled, “Circulating FGF21 is Liver Derived and Enhances Glucose Uptake During Refeeding and Overfeeding.” Dr. Potthoff’s laboratory discovered that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), an endocrine hormone that is expressed in multiple tissues and functions physiologically to maintain energy homeostasis, functions physiologically as an insulin sensitizer under conditions of acute refeeding and overfeeding. Their study shows that liver-derived FGF21 enters the circulation during fasting, but also remains present and functional during the early stage of refeeding. FGF21 is being pursued as a therapeutic target for diabetes and obesity because of its rapid and potent effects on improving insulin sensitivity.
Drs. Matthew Potthoff, PhD and Eric Taylor, PhD, Assistant Professors in the Department of Pharmacology and Biochemistry, respectively, have been awarded a Carver Collaborative Grant. The project, titled “Regulation of Hepatic Gluconeogenesis by the Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier,” is focused on understanding the role of mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) proteins in regulating hepatic metabolism. This project aims to determine whether decreasing MPC activity can reduce the excessive hepatic glucose production associated with type II diabetes.
Dr. Matthew Potthoff, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, has been awarded an Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation Grant. The project titled “A Novel Therapeutic Approach to Combat Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, is focused on understanding the mechanisms contributing to hormone resistance during diet induced obesity and identifying potential targets to reverse these effects.
Dr. Matthew Potthoff, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, has been awarded an American Diabetes Association Junior Faculty Award for his project, titled “Targeting the transcription factor Tox as a therapeutic for nonalcoholic fatty liver.” The goal of this research is to determine the role of Tox is regulating carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and to explore its role in the development of NAFLD.
Dr. Matthew Potthoff, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, has been awarded a Carver Medical Research Initiative Grant. The project, titled “Targeting FGF21 Production as a Therapeutic for Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome,” is focused on understanding the mechanisms regulating FGF21 production. The goal of this research is to identify mechanisms to increase endogenous FGF21 expression as a treatment for metabolic disease.