Kristy Townsend, PhD, explores neural plasticity and metabolic health
Ohio State College of Medicine
August 2020: The Townsend Lab for Neurobiology & Energy Balance relocated to The Ohio State University’s Department of Neurological Surgery. Six lab members (Magdalena Blaszkiewicz, Ph.D., Gabriel Jensen, Cameron Ford, Jake Willows, Sabrina DiPietro, and Emma Paradie) relocated with the lab.
The Townsend Lab’s research was featured as part of the 2020 State of Neurological Institute event at Wexner Medical Center, OSU.
The Townsend Lab will take part in #ShutDownSTEM on Wednesday June 10th.
Instead of working on our academic science and research we will focus on re-educating ourselves, sharing resources, donating time and money, making pledges to change behaviors and actively promote anti-racism in STEM, and finding ways to bring new knowledge back to the lab at our next lab meeting. Join us! https://www.shutdownstem.com/action
UMaine Faculty and Students Prepare COVID-19 science/medicine news summaries for Bangor Public Health
Read UMaine News Coverage here:
Public Posting of all News Bulletins:
Local news stories on this project:
Participants include: Kristy Townsend, Townsend Lab graduate students Ashleigh Beaulieu, Gabe Jensen, Emma Paradie, and undergraduates Tom Szeczyk and Seth Thomas.
Listen to the Maine Question Podcast with Kristy Townsend:
Season 2, Episode 6: What Color is Your Fat?
Listen on the web via SoundCloud
Summer 2020 Student Awards
Josh Passarelli was awarded a summer INBRE award, to work in the Townsend Lab on adult neural stem cells.
March 20, 2020: Magda Blaszkiewicz set to present about electric fat at a 5 minute genius talk event
On March 20, 2020 from 7:30-9:30 pm at the Bangor Arts Exchange, a post-doc in the Townsend lab, Magda Blaszkiewicz, will be presenting information about her company called Neuright, Inc, which she co-founded with Kristy Townsend. This event is part of the 2020 Maine Science Festival. (Update: event postponed due to COVID-19) Link here.
February 11, 2020: Cory Johnson awarded Susan J. Hunter teaching assistantship
Cory Johnson, a PhD candidate in the Townsend Lab, was awarded one of two Susan J Hunter Teaching Assistantships for the 2020-21 academic year. This award provides Cory the opportunity to teach one of his mentor’s undergraduate courses (in this case, Kristy Townsend’s Cell Biology course), allowing his faculty mentor to teach a new graduate course instead. Link here.
Kristy Townsend gave a talk at University of Michigan Neurology Department, Nov 15, 2019
Fall 2019: Student awards to the townsend lab
Undergraduates Dylan Taplin and Tom Szewczyk were awarded academic year CUGR awards, from the Center for Undergraduate Research. Josh Passarelli was awarded an academic year INBRE award. Postdoctoral Fellow Magda Blaszkiewicz was awarded an American Heart Association (AHA) Postdoctoral Grant for her work investigating adipose lymphatics.
September 27, 2019: Kristy Townsend Part of a Panel for Empowering Women in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Dr. Kristy Townsend was part of a panel of women who discussed what it takes to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and overcome systemic challenges in the workplace during an event at the University of Maine.
September 11, 2019: Magda Blaszkiewicz and Jake Willows PLOS One Paper Published
Madga Blaszkiewicz and Jake Willows were key contributors to a recently published PLOS One paper by the Townsend Lab. Link here. The focus of the research was, “Neuropathy and neural plasticity in the subcutaneous white adipose depot.”
September 9, 2019: Cory Johnson & Gabriel Jensen (Ph.D. Students) Awarded GSBSE travel awards
Cory Johnson and Gabriel Jensen were recipients of GSBSE Travel Awards, which is an award that is for students looking to travel to present research or participate in conferences.
September 3, 2019: Townsend Lab Awarded Inaugural Biomedical Science Accelerator Fund Grants
Townsend lab recognized as one of 6 NSFA Biomedical Accelerator award recipients by The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture at the University of Maine. Funds will support Sabrina DiPietro’s graduate work, extending our findings on adult neural stem cells from mouse to human.
August 6, 2019: Josh Quigley & Chris Aniapam Present at INBRE Symposium
Lab members Josh Quigley (INBRE, COA) and Chris Aniapam (NSF iMACBio summer student from SMCC) presented at the 46th annual INBRE symposium at the MDI Biological Laboratory. (Pictured: Josh Quigley)
June 12, 2019: Kristy Townsend Moderates 2nd Annual BioME Women in Bioscience Event
Link here. Dr. Kristy Townsend was a moderator of the networking event in Portland, Maine. The goal of this event was to share success stories and challenges, along with practical concepts to advance women in the bioscience industry. Additionally, BioME Women aim to inspire a younger audience to pursue a career in the industry by highlighting career options in the bioscience industry.
May 7, 2019: Kristy Townsend Receives Faculty-Mentor Award
Link here. Dr. Kristy Townsend was a recipient of the inaugural UMaine Faculty Mentor Awards. This is a recognition of faculty support, advocacy and mentorship of University of Maine students. Townsend was nominated by students.
April 26-27, 2019: Lab Outing
Spring lab outing: two day MBMSS meeting at MDIBL in Bar Harbor, Maine. Pictured were lab participants: Cory Johnson, James Miller, Tolu Esther Adekeye, Noelle Leon-Palmer, Magda Blaszkiewicz, Gabriel Jensen
Review Article Published
Read a review article about Adipose Innervation written by members of the Townsend Lab, an invited article included in a special issue of Biology, about “New Players in Adipocyte Biology” (article is open-access)
Spring/Summer 2019 Lab News
Trevor Morin, a research assistant in the Townsend Lab, was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, a prestigious academic honor society.
Morganne Robinson received a CUGR summer fellowship in the Townsend Lab.
The Townsend Lab welcomed its first iMACBio fellow for summer 2019, Chris Aniapam from Southern Maine Community College. This program is supported by the lab’s NSF-CAREER award, part of the Broader Impacts.
March 2019 – Magdalena Blaszkiewicz received her Ph.D. and begins a postdoctoral position in the Townsend Lab.
Dr. Kristy Townsend presented at the MDI Biological Laboratory’s Science Cafe at the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation in Bar Harbor on Monday, June 10. These events are hosted by MDIBL in an effort to provide a public forum where researchers could talk about their work with the public.
April 1, 2019: UMaine News
March 14, 2019: MSF Science on Tap
At this year’s Maine Science Festival Science on Tap event at Black Bear Brewing in Bangor, Dr. Kristy Townsend moderated a discussion with two expert researchers on CRISPR technologies and how they are currently being used in research labs at the University of Maine and Jackson Laboratory.
March 1, 2019: UMaine Research – IMPACT newsletter
Magda Blaszkiewicz, a Doctoral candidate in the Townsend lab was featured in this month’s Umaine IMPACT newsletter for her work on a less invasive way to measure peripheral neuropathy.
December 20, 2018: Science Lecture Series- Emera Astronomy Center
Dr. Kristy Townsend presents: Remodeling in Our Brain and Nervous System: Connections to Obesity and Diabetes at the University of Maine Emera Astronomy Center
November 5, 2018: Kristy Townsend presents at the Southern Maine Community College Science Department Series
Monday November 5, 2018
5:30p to 6:30p in Jewett Auditorium
Emma Paradie is named a 2018-19 academic year CUGR recipient in the Townsend lab!
Kristy Townsend interviewed by NEWS CENTER Maine about the safety and efficacy of alternative stem cell therapies
Link to additional resources on various stem cell therapies:
- The rise of unproven stem cell therapies turned this obscure scientist into an industry watchdog
- Stem Cell Information from the National Institutes of Health
- Stem Cell Transplantation- Types, Risks, and Benefits
- Doctors at many stem-cell clinics don’t have relevant training.
Kristy Townsend was interviewed for UMaine Today about her efforts to increase access to biomedical research opportunities for those in community colleges and underrepresented groups
Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering (GSBSE) recognizes two Townsend Lab members at annual meeting
At the 12th annual Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering (GSBSE) on Friday, September 21, graduate students Gabe Jensen and Magda Blaszkiewicz were recognized. Gabe received first place for his poster presentation and Magda was awarded the Student Service Award.
Kristy Townsend spoke at the Double Z Fifth Annual Farm-to-Table Dinner
This year at the Double Z Farm’s Farm-to-Table Dinner, while guests enjoyed a 6-course culinary dinner of produce from the ranch, Dr. Kristy Townsend and Dr. Robert Bernheim shared their research and perspectives on the food!
NSF CAREER awards recognize UMaine early-career faculty
Dr. Kristy Townsend and Dr. Jacquelyn Gill were both awarded NSF CAREER grants because of their dedication and passion to be academic role models and advance their research.
Kristy Townsend was recently awarded a $1 million CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation
The NSF awarded the $1 million grant for the project, “Novel Mechanisms of Adult Neurogenesis.” Townsend’s goal is to expand a capstone course for seniors to conduct biomedical research, and to contribute to the development of an outreach program and summer fellowship with community colleges and other underrepresented groups in Maine while furthering our understanding of the creation of new nerve cells in adult brains.
Kristy Townsend was awarded an NIH grant to study communication between the brain and fat tissue
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Kristy Townsend nearly $713,000 for her research investigating brain-adipose communication and how peripheral nerves in fat tissue function.
Kristy Townsend is receiving a $750K grant from the American Heart Association to Study Aging Fat Tissue
The grant will be used to study the effect of aging fat tissue on cardiovascular and metabolic conditions. The goal of the study is to help identify treatments that could potentially stop or reverse conditions including diabetes and obesity.
2018 CUGR Summer Fellowship Winners Announced!
The University of Maine’s Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) has announced the 2018 CUGR Summer Fellowship winners. Out of the 45 student submissions, 17 proposals will be awarded $3,000 each during the summer semester, including four members of the Townsend Lab: Ashleigh Beaulieu, Cameron Fudge, Emma Garner, and Joshua Passarelli.
First five MIRTA teams showcase their discoveries
Five Discoveries, including a medical device for early detection and diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, developed by the team of Dr. Kristy Townsend, Rosemary Smith, and Magdalena Blaszkiewicz, were showcased by University of Maine faculty-led teams from the Maine Innovation, Research and Technology Accelerator (MIRTA) on May 30, 2018 at the Foster Center for Student Innovation on Campus.
BioME welcomes two new Board Members: Kristy Townsend and Fran Harrison
Townsend also moderates the first annual BioME Women in Bioscience Event
The Jackson Laboratory hosts open house for students
Over 100 students from over 40 high schools in Maine attend the Jackson Laboratory’s first open house at their Bar Harbor location. The event provided a unique opportunity for kids to learn about what the Laboratory does and about biomedical research in general.
Symposium: Brown Adipose Tissue and Cardiovascular Function: Insulin Resistance, Vascular Tone, and Cardioprotective Effects
Kristy Townsend is an invited speaker in a session about neurovascular interactions in adipose tissue on Monday, April 23, 2018 at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego, along with Silvia Corvera, University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Kristin Stanford, Ohio State University.
March 24, 2018: Maine State Science Fair Results
Meg Lander from John Bapst High School in Bangor wins second place in Cellular & Molecular Biology & Pathophysiology of Human Disease at the 2018 Maine State Science Fair, for her project on A Mouse Model for Adipose Neuropathy. This project was carried out at the Townsend Lab at UMaine.
You’re the Expert Podcast released:
Kristy Townsend’s episode ‘The Mysteries of Fat” can be heard at this Soundcloud link
MDI Biological Laboratory discovery could lead to new therapies for diabetics
Sandra Rieger, Ph.D., working in collaboration with the Townsend Laboratory, has found that an enzyme she previously identified as playing a role in peripheral neuropathy induced by cancer chemotherapy, also plays a role in peripheral neuropathy cause by diabetes. Read more about this on Science Daily, as well.
Students Conduct Scientific Research at MDIBL
Twelve students from Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) spent a week over winter break working at MDI Biological Laboratory as part of an intensive course conducting real-world biomedical laboratory research which was part of an INBRE-supported course created by Prof. Kristy Townsend. This outreach is one aspect of Dr. Townsend’s NSF-CAREER Broader Impacts.
Humanity Needs Dreamers: A Visit with Marie Curie
Kristy Townsend participated in a discussion following the showing of a special film about the scientist who is most famous for the discovery of radioactivity, “Humanity Needs Dreamers: A Visit with Marie Curie.”
2017 Maine Science Festival: You’re the Expert
Kristy Townsend was the “Mystery Scientist” for the 2017 Maine Science Festival headliner event, You’re the Expert. Afterwards, she explained a little about her background, her research, and what it was like to be the Expert on the show!
BNORC Small Grant Recipient
The Townsend lab received a BNORC Small Grant for the investigation of the neural innervation of adipose depots project.
The University of Maine was awarded $497,000 by the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program to acquire a Leica TCS SP8 Digital LightSheet microscope. The PIs are Clarissa Henry, Rob Wheeler, Kristy Townsend, Leif Oxburgh, and Andre Khalil. LightSheet microscope is superior for imaging living organisms because the low light illumination and high-speed image acquisition facilitate long-term live imaging. LightSheet microscopy also illuminates specimens from both sides which allows visualization and rendering of larger samples. This Leica TCS SP8 also includes a White Light Laser with a nuning range of 470-670nm at 1nm increments and allows for 8 excitation wavelengths to be used simultaneously. This microscope will be used to study neuromusculoskeletal development and disease, kidney development and disease, mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions in vivo, and adipose tissue innervation.
Collaboration on COBRE Project
Kristy Townsend collaborated on Dr. Katie Motyl’s project: Neural and metabolic mechanisms of atypical antipsychotic drug-induced bone loss. This project investigated the mechanisms by which antipsychotics cause bone loss, including the role that brown adipose tissue plays in bone loss.
O’Brien Medical Supports Diabetes Research at UMaine
The Townsend Lab received an unrestricted gift from O’Brien Medical due to the impressive contributions made the research done in lab that could play an important role in the development of clinical treatments for diabetes and its complications such as neuropathy.
Townsend Lab receives an unrestricted research gift from Todd O’Brien at O’Brien Medical, for our work on diabetic neuropathy.
University of Maine Students Conduct Biomedical Research During Summer Program
Five University of Maine undergraduate students participated in the MDI Biological Laboratory 2017 Summer Fellowship Program, including lab member Callie Greco, giving students hands on research training in an advanced laboratory setting.
Presentation by Honors student Callie Greco at the Maine Summer INBRE Student Symposium at MDI Biological Laboratory:
Nerdy tattoos by Tattly at our summer lab lunch – we are proudly GEEKS (at least temporarily…!):
Members of the Townsend Lab (Lila Lyons and Taylor Delp, pictured) volunteer with Maine’s Partners for World Health, a medical mission group that delivers medical supplies to developing countries, supplies that otherwise would have become waste in the US. While there, doctors and nurses provide medical care and training to local hospitals. To donate or volunteer, visit: http://www.partnersforworldhealth.com. Taylor Delp can be reached for more information on UMaine’s Partners for World Health student chapter.
Learn more about UMaine’s new group: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (WiSTEMM, pronounced wiss-tem), an affiliate of the national Association for Women in Science (AWIS), and supported by UMaine’s Rising Tide Center. Find out more at the links below:
Supporting Future Women of STEM at the Bangor, ME Challenger Center
Spring 2017 – Townsend Lab members receive prestigious awards including:
Sigrid Koizar: School of Biology and Ecology Academic Achievement Award, and College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture Outstanding International Student Award
Callie Greco: SBE Academic Award (highest GPA in a major within the school, Juniors), Frank H. Lathrop Scholarship
Undergraduate summer fellowship awardees:
- Lila Lyons – Maine Space Grant
- Trevor Morin – Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) summer fellowship
- Callie Greco – INBRE Honors Summer Fellowship
Kristy was the featured scientist at the 2017 Maine Science Festival’s live taping of You’re the Expert, a public radio show and podcast where host Chris Duffy leads a panel of 3 comedians to guess what a scientist does all day! The comedians were Roy Wood Jr, Michelle Buteau, and Charlie Hankin. Get involved with the Maine Science Festival! (photo credits: Maine Science Festival photographers)
Noelle Leon-Palmer, a recent graduate of the Honors College, is interviewed about her collaboration with the Townsend lab in accomplishing her Honors Thesis: an exploration on “physiology, neurobiology, and endocrinology of love.”
Lab member, Magda Blaszkiewicz presents at iBANGS!
Spring Semester 2016 – Townsend lab members continue to receive very prestigious awards.
Highest GPA in a major within the School
Callie Greco, Elizabeth Wood, Erik Holmsen
Frank H. Lathrop Scholarship
Awarded to high-achieving juniors and continuing seniors who are Maine residents majoring in Biological Sciences
Frank B. and Charles S. Bickford Prize
Awarded to an outstanding graduating senior in the College of Natural Sciences, Food, and Agriculture
Elizabeth E. Wood
2015 – News coverage at Joslin Diabetes Center
“The Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism paper, titled “Brown fat fuel utilization and thermogenesis” and co-authored by Kristy L. Townsend, Ph.D., then a Research Associate in the Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism at Joslin, and currently Adjunct Faculty…was selected as a Top 10 paper of 2014”
Fall Semester 2015 – Townsend lab members have received very prestigious awards.
Liz Wood– The Carolyn Reed Fellowship 2015
Carrie Curtis– INBRE Honors Fellowship 2015
Victoria Hernandez – ADA Minority Fellowship 2016
October 19, 2015 – Walking Tour About UMaine Women! “The goal is to highlight some of the amazing UMaine women and the contributions and accomplishments they have made, and continue to make, in shaping the state’s largest public university. From the early days of the university to today, women have been contributing in such areas as politics, education, science, athletics and the arts. This tour highlights some of those women alumni, faculty, students, staff and administrators.” The tour is also available online:
Winter 2015 – The Townsend Lab was featured in a UMaine video about biomedical research!
Fall/ Winter 2015 – The Townsend lab was featured in UMaine Today! Check out the article through the link below.
November 2015 – Our undergraduate student Carrie Curtis has been awarded the INBRE fellowship, and our undergraduate student Elizabeth (Liz) Wood has received the pre-med fellowship.
November 2015 – This is a feature on Liz Wood as a student athlete, including her work in our lab.
August 2015 – “Body Worlds” Exhibit coming to Maine- MPBN article – interviewed Dr. Townsend
June 2015 – Congratulations to this year’s UMaine award winners from Townsend Lab!
March 2015 – Brain Awareness Week at UMaine- news article release
March 2015 – Brain Awareness Week at UMaine
2015 – Review article by Dr. Kristy Townsend chosen as a Top Ten article of 2014 for
Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism.
March 2015 – Maine Science Festival and Maine State Science Fair:
2015 – American Diabetes Association Kennebunks Tour de Cure Kickoff Event
Dr. Kristy Townsend- panelist / designed Diabetes Research Info Sheet
2015 American Diabetes Association Kennebunks Tour de Cure Kickoff Event
Dr. Kristy Townsend- panelist / designed Diabetes Research Info Sheet
November 2014 – School of Biology and Ecology News, University of Maine:
New SBE Assistant Professor of Neurobiology: Dr. Kristy Townsend
The School of Biology & Ecology is pleased to welcome Dr. Kristy Townsend, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology. Townsend arrived at the University of Maine at the beginning of November, but will not be teaching until the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year. She will be spending the rest of this year setting up her laboratory and planning her future curriculum. She will be teaching Intro to Neurobiology in the fall of 2015, and Cellular Biology in the spring of 2016.
Townsend recently moved to Bangor with her family, but this isn’t her first experience with Maine’s beautiful landscapes. She attended high school in Orono, and received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Maine. During her time at UMaine, she did her honors thesis with Alan Rosenwasser, professor of psychology, studying the effects of chronic alcohol intake on circadian rhythms and serotonin signaling in the brain.
“I’ve always wanted this type of position,” said Townsend. “My previous position was purely research, but at night I taught for the Harvard extension school. I wasn’t required to do that, but I did it because I enjoy teaching. I’ve always wanted a job that I could do both.”
Townsend received her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Boston University in 2007. During her time at Boston University, she began her research on energy balance, body weight regulation, and obesity, working with bat and mice models. The main focus of her research was comparing and contrasting how the brains of these animals change during the process of body weight regulation. She also looked at the role leptin, a hormone secreted from fat tissue, plays on the brain of mice when they are fed a high fat diet. After receiving her Ph.D., she spent two years at King’s College in London, performing post-doctoral research. This research opportunity exposed her to working more with cell culture, using mouse models that had immune-deficiencies in order to see how immunity is involved with metabolism.
For the past five years, Townsend has been working at Harvard Medical School in the Joslin Diabetes Center. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher and a junior faculty member, working on a variety of projects focusing on how the brain communicates with peripheral tissues to control energy balance within the body. A major aspect of her research explored the role of brown adipose cells, looking at how they develop and are activated, what effect they have on the brain, and how growth factors act to increase metabolism.
She will be continuing some of her research projects from previous institutions, but is excited to start some new ones. Her research will be looking at how specific growth factors affect appetite and how the brain talks to adipose tissues. Some of her new research projects will be looking at changes in neurogenesis and neuropathy.
Townsend said she is thrilled to be in charge of what she wants to research. “It’s a lot of responsibility to make sure everything is running smoothly. I want to be able to decide what I think is interesting, and study that. To me that is the most exciting part. There are endless possibilities to what research questions I can ask.”
November 2014 – Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center. Project Funding News:
2014 – Boston Area Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center. Project Funding News:
November 2014 – Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, University of Maine. Faculty profile, Dr. Kristy Townsend:
November 2014 – Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering, University of Maine. New faculty welcome, Dr. Kristy Townsend:
November 2001 – Bangor Daily News, Dr. Kristy Townsend Graduate Work:
2001 – UMaine Today Newspaper. Dr. Kristy Townsend Honors Thesis Work: