(Photo and caption from Townsend lab’s feature in UMaine Today. Left to right: Magdalena Blaszkiewicz, first-year graduate student; Caroline Curtis, third-year biology major, neuroscience minor; Bethany Miles, fourth-year biology major; Kristy Townsend, assistant professor of neurobiology; Cordell Beaton, third-year biology major, chemistry minor; Callie Greco, second-year biology major; James Miller, fourth-year biology major, chemistry minor; Amanda Dubois, fifth-year biochemistry major. Not pictured: Raymond Vallejo — fourth-year biology major, neuroscience minor and pre-medical studies concentration; Brenna Gerchman — fourth-year biology major; P. Dillon Kress — third-year biology major, pre-medical studies concentration)
The Townsend Lab featured in UMaine today!
Townsend Lab Photo – Spring 2017:
Our laboratory is focused on brain-adipose communication in the regulation of energy balance, and how neural plasticity in the brain and peripheral nerves affects metabolic health.
Research in the Townsend Lab focuses on the mechanisms by which the body maintains or loses energy balance, which is the balance between energy intake (comprised of dietary components, neural control of appetite, and digestion and nutrient absorption) and energy expenditure (comprised of basal metabolism, mitochondrial function, thermogenesis, and physical activity). The brain, or central nervous system (CNS) is the part of the body responsible for coordinating and controlling these energy balance processes, and is in communication with other metabolic organs and tissues via a 2-way system that includes: neural connections with the brain (such as the sympathetic nerves) and endocrine products released from metabolic organs and tissues which reach the brain through the systemic circulation. Current projects in the lab seek to better understand the role of the growth factors called Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) in regulating energy balance and neural plasticity, as well as the involvement of adult neural stem cells in the brain in response to energy intake and exercise. The over-arching goal of our work is to develop a deeper mechanistic understanding of how the body maintains energy balance, in order to prevent and treat metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.