My laboratory is involved in identifying novel genes that underlie complex traits, particularly for obesity and diabetes. We use an outbred rat model, heterogeneous stock rats, for genetic mapping followed by the use of multiple genetic and statistical tools to identify causal genes and variants that underlie these traits. Once identified, we test these genes in human cohorts as well as use rat models to understand the mechanism of disease.
We also are starting studies to look at the interplay between obesity and mental health, as well as assess the role of diet on both metabolic and mental health. We have formed several collaborations with other investigators to use heterogeneous stock rats to study other complex traits, including kidney disease and behaviors involved in substance use disorders. The work in our laboratory is funded through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.