Research Overview

Our research focuses on the dual fields of bone disease and obesity metabolism.  Within the bone field, our ongoing research projects include (1) studying skeletal health after bariatric (weight loss) surgery in obese patients, (2) determining the physiologic mechanisms involved in bone loss after bariatric surgery, and (3) using these insights to guide management of bone health in bariatric surgery patients.  We have also examined the skeletal impact of proton pump inhibitors, diabetes, and sex steroids, and explored physiologic effects of parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the treatment of osteoporosis.

Key bone techniques that we are utilizing include high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) for the in vivo assessment of bone microarchitecture, microindentation for the estimation of cortical bone material strength properties, and 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy for the measurement of marrow adiposity characteristics. We are also leveraging large epidemiologic databases to examine skeletal outcomes after bartiatric surgery on a population basis.

Within the obesity field, our research is focused on the impact of gut microbiota modulation on human metabolism.  Gut microbiota have been recently identified to play an important role in many aspects of human physiology, including regulating metabolic processes.  Specifically, preclinical and clinical studies have suggested that transplantation of gut microbiota may modulate energy expenditure and/or glucose handling.  We are exploring the use of oral capsulized fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) as a novel technique to durably alter the gut microbiome and to investigate changes in metabolic endpoints including body weight and insulin sensitivity, as assessed by hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps. Our ultimate goal is to determine whether induction of sustainable changes in the gut microbiome can be developed into a therapeutic intervention for obesity and the metabolic syndrome. 

Our research group is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and in investigator-initiated grant from Seres Therapeutics.