[Jordan 1-17] Hosted by Michelle Bland.
Research Interests: Visualization of Lipid Metabolism and Signaling in the Zebrafish: Cells require lipids for the production of signaling molecules, membrane components, and as sources of fuel. Given their utmost necessity for proper cellular function, it is not surprising that defects in lipid metabolism underlie a number of human diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. In 2007-08, one-third of US adults and >18% of children (ages 6-19) were classified as obese, with obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise worldwide. The globalization of the high-fat Western diet and the concurrent rise in the incidence of lipid disorders has provided an impetus to better understand lipid metabolism in the context of metabolic dysfunction. This need to investigate the role of lipids in metabolic disease has also brought into focus questions that remain unanswered in the field. For instance, although the genes involved in cholesterol and fatty acid (FA) uptake in intestinal cells have been identified, their exact mechanisms of action are highly debated or largely unknown. Such gaps in our understanding of these genes and how they function hinders the development of effective therapeutics for lipid disorders and reveals a need to create better approaches to address them.
In general, the goal of the Farber lab is to better understand the cell and molecular biology of lipids within digestive organs by exploiting the many unique attributes of the zebrafish larvae. While the zebrafish has been established as a powerful model for the study of early development, few researchers have taken advantage of the accessibility and optical clarity of the embryos and larvae to visualize lipid uptake and processing in vivo. Specifically, the laboratory has focused on studying lipid modifying and transport processes in the developing 6 day old zebrafish larvae.