Sandeep Raha, PhD
Obesity is one of the most significant health care issues of the 21st century because it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Obesity related dysfunction can potentially be initiated in utero. Children of obese mothers are at a higher risk of becoming obese and developing these risk factors later in life and this serves to further fuel the obesity epidemic. The environment of the fetus, in the womb, may contribute to the child being predisposed towards developing obesity related disorders as a result of metabolic reprogramming. Mitochondria are one of the central players in cellular metabolisms. They have been classically thought of as oval-shaped organelles responsible for generating ATP and supplying the cells energy demands. They are so much more!
My lab focuses on understanding the role of mitochondrial function/dysfunction in modulating uterine stress as a consequence of maternal obesity. We focus on how physiological stressors affect mitochondrial function and one of their primary by-products, reactive oxygen species. We are interested in understanding the role of mitochondria in contributing to fetal stress in the obese mother. Furthermore, we also focus on how in utero stress can affect mitochondrial function and signaling in dictating fetal and neonatal health of obese mothers. We utilize cell culture and animal models to understand these processes and develop therapeutic strategies to minimize the consequences of maternal obesity on neonatal health.
The range of techniques applied in my laboratory spans molecular approaches (advanced proteomics, RT-PCR, determination of DNA methylation patterns) to cellular (immunological approaches to determining protein expression, enzyme assays, live-cell microscopy, electron microscopy) to physiological methods (evaluation of blood pressure in rodents, determination of glucose tolerance, histology, immunochemistry). In association with clinical collaborators, the scope of the research in my group spans from molecules to humans.