Kartik Shankar, Ph.D.
Department of Pediatrics
Section of Developmental Nutrition
As the prevalence of obesity increases so does the incidence of overweight during pregnancy. However, we know very little about the long-term consequences of maternal obesity for the offspring. Research in our laboratory is focused on understanding the developmental origins of childhood and adult obesity, specifically the long-term consequences of maternal obesity on the offspring. The research projects involve a wide range of experimental and translational approaches including animal models, cell culture, molecular biology and genomics (microarrays and Next-gen Sequencing). The overall objectives of these studies are aimed at gaining a better mechanistic understanding of the physiological basis of fetal programming and through translational studies, to provide novel opportunities for effective intervention. One aspect of these efforts is aimed at early developmental periods (conception, implantation and placentation) primarily using experimental models, but also samples from lean and obese human subjects. In a related series of studies (funded by NIDDK-NIH), we are also examining the alterations in multiple organs in young offspring consequent to exposure to maternal obesity. These studies are focused on elucidating hormonal and energy utilization pathways (insulin sensitivity and nutrient sensing) and are coupled with examining epigenetic alterations that may underlie altered sensitivity in the offspring.