A Conversation with Michael La Frano, a new STRIDE Affiliate and Assistant Professor, Food Science & Nutrition
Michael La Frano, pictured at left, is a new STRIDE affiliate and Assistant Professor in Food Science & Nutrition.
STRIDE is excited to welcome Professor Michael La Frano as one of its newest research affiliates. The interview below describes La Frano’s work, how he is involved with STRIDE, and opportunities to collaborate with him:
STRIDE: What are you studying?
La Frano: Current projects include a collaboration with Kinesiology Professor and STRIDE Director Suzanne Phelan in which we are investigating potential biomarkers for the development of gestational diabetes mellitus. I am also involved in other projects that include the reversible and irreversible effects of weight gain and weight loss, the metabolic characteristics of brown adipose tissue, and identifying predictors of preterm birth. Furthermore, we are using animal models to investigate fasting-induced insulin resistance, as well as the metabolic effects of postnatal treatments.
STRIDE: Why does it matter?
La Frano: It is useful for both testing a specific hypothesis related to effects of a treatment that are suspected, while at the same time acquiring data on a large number of other compounds that can be used to more globally assess metabolic effects and generate hypotheses for follow-up studies. Data can also be combined with other omics analysis to link genetic, protein, metabolic, and microbiome effects.
STRIDE: What is metabolomics?
La Frano: Metabolomics is a field that uses methods to measure a large number of small molecule metabolites from bio-fluids and tissues in order to study metabolite composition. The types of compounds relate to energy metabolism, cell signaling, DNA synthesis, and oxidative stress to name a few. Many metabolomic techniques are capable of identifying 50 - 300 compounds in a single assay. Some specific compounds include sugars, lipids, nucleic acids and amino acids.
STRIDE: How can STRIDE affiliates get involved/in touch with you?
La Frano: The name of the assays I will be directly involved in are lipid mediators such as eicosanoids and endocannabinoids, as well as bile acids. I will be continuing to work with former colleagues to combine these data with other metabolomics analyses. I will also be conducting large-scale profiling of carotenoids and polyphenols in food, animals and humans.
Pictured above are the biochemical network maps La Frano uses in his metabolomics research.