Physiology and Behavior Laboratory
Physiology and pathophysiology of the neuroendocrine control of eating and energy balance, obesity and type-2-diabetes; metabolism; vagal afferent signalling, paracrine and endocrine functions of gastrointestinal peptides
1 professor, 1 senior assistant, 2 postdocs, 2 technicians, 6-8 PhD students
Obesity has replaced under-nutrition and infectious diseases as the leading global health problem. Together with its comorbidities, obesity is a major cause of health costs in developed countries. The tremendous increase in the prevalence of obesity over the last 30 years is thought to be related to a combination of genetic susceptibility, decreased physical activity, and numerous other life style factors including the continuous abundance of attractive high energy and highly palatable food choices that favour overeating. In fact, evidence accumulates indicating that overeating rather than a decrease in average physical activity is the major reason for the current obesity endemic. Our research aims at characterizing neuroendocrine and metabolic mechanisms that control eating and energy balance and their disturbances. Major topics are:
We use rats, mice, and cell culture systems in a translational, integrative and systemic approach that employs transgenic techniques, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and electrophysiology. Because eating behaviour is one important endpoint of our research, we also use elaborated in vivo physiological and behavioural techniques. This includes sophisticated experimental surgical methods that allow for the routine use of in vivo techniques that are rarely found elsewhere. The ultimate aim is to help identify potential targets for the treatment of obesity and its comorbidities in humans.
We will continue the efforts towards improving our understanding of the neuroendocrine control of eating, to eventually employ this knowledge to counteract overeating and obesity. The undesirable side effects and limited effectiveness of the few currently available pharmacological treatment options for obesity and several recent developments in the basic physiology of the gastrointestinal tract have revitalized obesity-related research in this area. We will therefore focus on gut mechanisms and gut brain interactions in this context.
Computerized recordings of eating behaviour combined with remotely controlled substance applications and blood/lymph samplings in freely moving animals; unique experimental surgical techniques (subdiaphragmatic vagal deafferentation and deefferentation, cannulation of the major intestinal lymph duct, …); single unit recordings from peripheral nerves; mouse and rat computed tomography to examine body fat distribution; mouse indirect calorimetry; immunocytochemistry and molecular biology techniques; mouse models using site-specific conditional knock-down/ overexpression
Physiology of Eating
Selected Topics in Physiology Related to Nutrition
ETH Zurich, Swiss National Science Foundation, European Union, National Institute of Health (USA), Industry
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