As a molecular exercise physiologist my primary research goal is to understand the molecular basis of skeletal muscle plasticity (the ability to change depending upon environment). Muscle is a very plastic tissue with the ability to grow with extra loading and become more fatigue resistant with training. However, muscle will also waste with inactivity and loose metabolic flexibility with poor nutrition. By defining the molecular networks that control this plasticity we will be better able to prescribe interventions and develop more effective treatments for the derangements that occur in muscle with ageing and disease. I hold several small grants to develop a program of study in this area. The first grant from the Society for Endocrinology is to develop a tissue culture model (cells grown in a dish) of skeletal muscle growth responses. This model will allow us to carry out high throughput screens for nutritional, genetic and pharmacological regulators of muscle growth. The second grant, from the American College of Sports Medicine, is to develop a technique to discover novel exercise responsive proteins which may control exercise adaptations to resistance exercise. Finally, I hold an internal grant from the University of Stirling to define; using SILAC based phosphoproteomics, the phosphorylation events controlled by the kinase mTORC1. mTORC1 is a critical integrator of energy, nutrition, loading and hormone status and is essential to developing muscle growth, but when mTORC1 is activated in the wrong context it can induce insulin resistance. Therefore, understanding what it targets to mediate these effects could yield novel information about muscle plasticity. My aim is to translate the information gained from these experiments into human exercise and nutrition studies to better define our molecular nature and to understand the mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle plasticity.
Influence of n-3FA intake on high-fat diet induced changes in anabolic signalling in healthy adults.
PI: Dr Oliver Witard
Funded by: Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation
SE - Lab visit grant
PI: Dr David Lee Hamilton
Funded by: Society for Endocrinology