T-32: Botanical Approaches to Combat Metabolic Syndrome

OBJECTIVE

The primary aim of this training grant is to train postdoctoral fellows to understand the role of botanicals on the complex interactions between genetic, molecular and physiological aspects of metabolic syndrome.

Each postdoctoral fellow in this training program is encouraged to develop interdisciplinary research efforts to understand the effect and action of botanicals on components of the metabolic syndrome. The program will take advantage of the cutting-edge technologies and the wide range of research efforts related to metabolic syndrome that are available at the Pennington Biomedical, while having access to expertise in botanical research and novel botanical compounds as available through the Botanical Core in collaboration with the Rutgers Department of Plant Biology and Pathology.

Program Overview

Metabolic syndrome, a condition whose major features consist of obesity, insulin resistance and development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is reaching epidemic proportions.  The objective of this proposed training grant is to train both Ph.D. and M.D. postdoctoral fellows to become productive research scientists capable of establishing scientific careers that further efforts to understand the role of botanicals on the complex interactions between genetic, molecular and physiological aspects of the metabolic syndrome.

Many qualified scientists in the areas of molecular biology, genetics, physiology, and metabolism have been attracted to the study of the metabolic syndrome, but lack the expertise or resources to expand their research to the study of how botanicals may affect these physiologic or molecular processes. Conversely, individuals who may be well versed in plant discovery, characterization and standardization may need to have their approach complemented by molecular, genetic and physiologic approaches. We aim to bridge the divide between the plant discovery/characterization approach and the molecular biology/physiological approach by providing training in these areas and by encouraging postdoctoral interdisciplinary research efforts to understand the effect and action of botanicals on components of the metabolic syndrome.

This training program will take advantage of the staff and resources of our NIH sponsored Botanicals Research Center (BRC), a joint venture between Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the LSU Agricultural Center and the Rutgers University Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment.  Most fellows will be based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but some will be based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center Fellows

Trainees at Pennington Biomedical will focus primarily on animal or human metabolic research using botanicals.

This postdoctoral training program is in cooperation with the Dietary Supplement Research Center focused on Botanicals, specifically the Botanical Research Center (BRC), located on the campus of Pennington Biomedical.  Pennington Botanical T32 postdocs will work toward enhancing research interactions between botanical characterization and molecular/genetic/physiologic approaches at both the basic science and clinical research areas.

Trainees working in the laboratories of our basic and clinical scientists will benefit from working on collaborative research with botanicals (e.g., plant discovery, botanical therapeutics, plant biology, plant biochemistry, natural products bioprospecting from plants and microbes, etc.), while trainees with expertise in the botanical sciences will learn how to have their discoveries complemented by molecular, genetic and physiologic approaches. Learning about multiple areas of metabolic research and how botanicals interact and influence metabolic and cellular pathways will likely promote creativity and hopefully inspire trainees to transcend the boundaries that limit current research.

We want our trainees to gain exposure to at least two specialty areas (e.g., genetics of metabolic syndrome, molecular regulation of insulin action, biochemical botanical characterization, botanical therapeutics) as we anticipate that this will encourage future interdisciplinary research efforts needed to understand this complex and challenging syndrome.

Rutgers Department of Plant Biology and Pathology Fellows

The Rutgers Department of Plant Biology and Pathology is internationally recognized for their research programs in plant biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, botanical therapeutics research, and natural products bioprospecting from plants and microbes.  The Biotech Center has direct access to 16,000 sq. ft. of a modern research greenhouse facility located nearby, which is uniquely designed for the cultivation of a wide selection of medicinal plants throughout the world.

Research fellows at the Rutgers Department of Plant Biology and Pathology will learn isolation, structure elucidation, synthesis, and biosynthesis of selected natural products derived from mevalonic acid (isoprenoids and steroids), amino acids (alkaloids), fatty acids, shikimic acid (phenolics), and polyketides (carboaromatics); and learn methods for determining the identity, purity, quality, and processing of botanicals.

Phillip J. Brantley, PhD
Program Director
Professor and Director of Educational Programs

Contact:
Phil.Brantley@pbrc.edu
Pennington Biomedical
6400 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4124

* Only applicants who are US citizens or have resident alien status will be considered for these training programs.