Visiting Scholar: Atefeh Rabiee (CBMR-University of Copenhagen)

Stanford Faculty Advisors: Mary Teruel (Chemical Systems & Biology), Peter Jackson (Microbiology & Immunology), Jonathan Long (Pathology)

An interdisciplinary approach towards panoramic capturing of fat cell fate and timing

Obesity is the main driver of worldwide epidemic Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). It is obvious that the most effective therapy to treat T2D would be to prevent or treat the underlying obesity, but this has proven to be a very elusive therapeutic goal to achieve with drugs or behavioral interventions.

With this project, Atefeh intends to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling the fate of fat cells, focusing on an important new concept: the timing of adipogenesis. Indeed, recent experiments in Dr. Teruel's lab show that fat cell production rates are strongly controlled by the duration and frequency of input stimuli, and that there is a circadian code for fat cell differentiation. With the system and assays that will be developed for this project, Atefeh will test for the first time this broadly relevant hypothesis that mammals have setup a system where specific pulse patterns of hormonal stimuli can selectively regulate the rate of fat cell differentiation. The outcome of this work will be a fundamental understanding of the system architecture and molecular mechanisms that can control small fractional differentiation rates, opening up new venues for therapeutically regulating adipose tissue renewal and size. The results of this study will likely have broad relevance for all terminal cell differentiation processes in different tissues.