CHRISTOPHER SCHMITT, UCLA CENTER FOR NUEROBEHAVIORAL GENETICS Obesity is increasingly
Obesity is increasingly prevalent worldwide, and has severe negative impacts on public health. Obesity arises from a complex interaction of genetic predisposition and environment that can accumulate throughout life. Although increasing evidence points to the importance of early development in the manifestations of adult disease, few studies have been undertaken of developmental measures that might be associated with adult obesity risk. The search for obesogenic markers during development in humans is complicated by the ubiquity of diets high in fat and simple carbohydrates, and the difficulty in assessing the actual diets of study subjects. This research investigates the genetic underpinnings of adult onset obesity and obesogenic growth trajectories from birth to adulthood in a genetically well-characterized model system under a controlled diet and environment: the African green monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) in the Vervet Research Colony at Wake Forest University. We currently have some power to identify SNPs associated with these obesogenic traits, but the sample size must be increased. With further sampling, a more detailed examination of growth trajectories, in combination with novel biomarkers such as the SNPs discovered in this study, may be used to assess early obesity risks and promote the discovery of novel biomedical interventions. Perhaps of more interest to evolutionary anthropologists, the results of this captive study could easily be extended to wild populations. Our research group has already sequenced the genomes of hundreds of vervet monkeys from across their ancestral ranges in Africa, and in an isolated wild population on the islands of St. Kitts & Nevis in the Caribbean. This research raises the exciting possibility of assessing phenotypic plasticity and environmental impacts on trait expression in the wild associated with SNPs that are obesogenic in captivity.
(Monday) 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Haines Hall 352