Recent CNRC News
Oops. After ten years and 1,000 studies, epigeneticists uncover trouble in their tool box - Jan. 11, 2023
Grb10 offers a potential new approach for treating obesity - Jan 3, 2023
Serotonin 2C receptor associated with obesity and maladaptive behavior - Dec 19, 2022
Scientists patent gene that may help cope with climate change - Sept. 29, 2022
The benefits of exercise in a pill? Science is closer to that goal - June 14, 2022
Study shows kids grow faster during school year, compared to summer break - June 15, 2022
Recent CNRC Member Highlights
Dr. Yong Xu was a part of a collaborative study "Serotonin 2C receptor associated with obesity and maladaptive behavior" involving Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter Medical School. The study was highlighted in a BCM press release along with being published in Nature Medicine journal on Dec 19, 2022. After the release, the research was additionally acknowledged by the following news websites: Mirage News and Nature Reviews Endocrinology. View the BCM Press Release.
Dr. Heba El Ayash, MD, post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Fida Bacha’s Lab at the CNRC, was invited to present her work on “Incretins and cardiac autonomic function in youth with obesity across the glycemia spectrum”, at the Texas Children’s Fellows Research Symposium on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Her work was selected as one of the top five abstracts for Oral Presentation at the Symposium. Congratulations! (February 2023)
Dr. Kristine McDermott (Conde), a CNRC post-doc in Dr. Xu’s lab was awarded an F32 from NIH-NIDDK (1F32DK134121) for her project "5-HT Neurons and Meal Regulation" (February 2023)
Nancy E. Moran, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, was elected to serve as the co-vice chair for the Gordon Carotenoid Research Conference. This international, multidisciplinary scientific conference is held every two years to address the biology and chemistry of carotenoids and carotenoid derivatives across microorganisms, plants and mammals, including humans. Gordon conferences focus on advancing the frontiers of science through the presentation of unpublished research and by prioritizing discussion and interactions among scientists of all career stages. Moran’s co-vice chair is Li Li, Ph.D. of the USDA/ARS Robert Holley Center for Agriculture and Health at Cornell University. (January 2023)
The American Pediatric Society announced 95 new members, including three from the Children's Nutrition Research Center. Society members are recognized child health leaders of extraordinary achievement who work together to shape the future of academic pediatrics. New members will be recognized during the APS Presidential Plenary April 29 at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2023 Meeting. Listed below as pictured top to bottom.
- Dr. Sheryl Hughes, professor of pediatrics – nutrition
- Dr. Teresia O’Connor (middle), associate professor of pediatrics and associate director for human sciences at the CNRC
- Dr. Yong Xu (bottom), professor of pediatrics and associate director for basic sciences at the CNRC
- Doug Burrin Ph.D. received the 2023 Bruce Bistrian Nutrition Mentorship Award from the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
- Doug Burrin Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at BCM and research physiologist at the Agricultural Research Services, received the 2023 Senior Scientist of the Year Award from the Agricultural Research Services
CNRC Member Highlights
Jennette Moreno, Ph.D. was accepted as a member of the Society of Pediatric Research. (October 2022)
Dr. Miao-Hsueh Chen, associate professor of pediatrics – nutrition, has been awarded a 2022-2023 BCM Cardiovascular Research Institute Pilot award for her proposal, "Lineage and molecular analyses of the cardiac origin of brown adipocytes." (Sept. 16 2022)
Dr. Salma Musaad, associate professor of pediatrics – nutrition, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health AIM-AHEAD Fellowship Program in Leadership grant for her proposal, "Using Machine Learning to Investigate Intervention Effect Disparities and Digital Phenotypes Among Black Girls; Brain #67674-I." (BCM Faculty News, Sept. 8, 2022)
Dr. Lucas Tu, a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Yong Xu’s lab, has been selected as a recipient of a 2022 Trainee Professional Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience. (Sept. 7, 2022)
Teresa Davis Ph.D. was elected President of the American Society of Animal Science for the year starting July 14, 2022 through July 20, 2023.
Dr. Yang He in Dr. Xu’s lab was awarded the Chinese American Diabetes Association Fellowship Award for his oral presentation at the 13th Scientific Symposium of the Chinese American Diabetes Association in New Orleans, La., June 1 – 3, 2022.
CNRC Faculty Awards
CNRC faculty were recently recognized in June with plaques for achievements within the pediatrics department.
2021 Research Mentorship Award: Stephanie Sisley, M.D.
2021 Young Investigator Award: Nancy Moran, Ph.D., Stephanie Sisley, M.D.
2021 High Impact Publication Award (senior Author): Yong Xu, M.D., Ph.D.
2020 Research Mentorship Award: Teresia O’Connor, M.D., MPH
2020 Young Investigator Award: Jana Dave, Ph.D., Alexis Wood, Ph.D.
2020 Young Investigator Award: Qi Wu, Ph.D.
Margaret Raber, DR.P.H., M.P.H received a one-year award from the Texas Children's Hospital Pediatric Pilot Research Fund for the study “Project LAUNCH: the development of a skill-based, digital nutrition program to launch low-income high-schoolers into healthy adulthood”. During this one-year project, Dr. Raber will work with Texas Children's faculty from the Mobile Clinic Program (Sanghamitra Misra, M.D., and Cassandra Duran, DNP, RN) to engage students and staff from a local charter school in the development of an online nutrition education program,. July 2022
Stephanie Sisley, M.D., received a R01 from NIH-NIDDK (R01DK128117-01A1) for her project “Brain VDR Regulate Glucose Balance,” (4/5/2022-3/31/2027). June 2022
Dr. Sheryl Hughes’ and colleagues’ article was selected as the 2022 Best Article in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. They showed that parents who took part in a childhood obesity prevention program for parents and their Head Start children (SEEDS) prevention parents reported healthier feeding practices and their children were less likely to have overweight or obesity compared to controls at the 12-month follow-up. June 2022
Alli Antar, Ph.D., received a one-year award from the Texas Children's Hospital Pediatric Pilot Research Fund for the study “Dissecting the Role of ChREBP in Brown Adipose Tissue.” The goal of this one-year project is to identify new, nutrient-sensitive targets that regulate whole-body energy expenditure and glucose metabolism in order to develop novel treatments for pediatric patients at increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as associated pathologies. June 2022
Chishinga Callender, MS, senior research coordinator for Dr. Deb Thompson’s research team, was awarded the Outstanding Abstract by a Student Member Award and Meritorious Award for her abstract entitled, "The Perspectives of Black Mothers on Factors Influencing Dietary Choices in their Families and Communities" by the Society of Behavioral Medicine Child and Family Health Special Interest Group. April 2022
Erica Soltero, Ph.D. was selected as a fellow to the Obesity Health Disparities- PRIDE (Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engage in Health-Related Research) training program funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The goal of this two-year program is to provide early-career faculty with mentorship, training, and funding opportunities to establish independence in a research area that addresses obesity disparities. June 2022
Teresia O’Connor, M.D., MPH was elected to the Society of Pediatric Research Council from the specialty area of public health and epidemiology. She will serve on the council for a three-year term beginning June, 2022.
Teresa Davis, Ph.D. is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nutrition (Jan. 1, 2014 - Dec. 31, 2023)
New to the CNRC
Xia Gao Ph.D. (Bella)
Xia Gao Ph.D. (Bella) received her doctoral degree in biochemistry from University of Alberta, Canada, where she was trained in phospholipid metabolism under Drs. Dennis Vance and René Jacobs in 2015. From 2015-2021, she pursued her post-doctoral training initially with Dr. Jason Locasale, and then with Drs. Christopher Newgard and Donald McDonnell at Duke University. In December of 2021 Dr. Gao joined the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics-CNRC and holds a secondary academic appointment in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at BCM. Dr. Gao’s lab is keen in understanding the interactions of nutrition, metabolism, and metabolic disease, particularly amino acid metabolism in cancer and obesity.
Xia Gao, Ph.D., received a R00 from NIH-NCI (R00 CA237618) for her project “Understanding methionine metabolism and its therapeutic potential in cancer” (4/1/2022-3/31/2025), and a CPRIT (PEND-CANCER PREV & RSCH RR210056) for her project “Employing dietary methionine restriction to enhance chemotherapy efficacy” (8/31/2021-8/30/2026).
Michael Dzakovich Ph.D. (Mike; Tomato) joined the CNRC during September, 2021 as a research plant physiologist with the USDA-ARS. Michael was most recently a postdoctoral research scholar at the Plant’s for Human Health Institute (NC State University) in Dr. Mario Ferruzzi’s laboratory studying carotenoid absorption. Previously under the guidance of Dr. Jessica Cooperstone, Michael completed a doctorate at The Ohio State University focused on defining the health benefits of tomato consumption using targeted and untargeted metabolomics, transcriptomics, and quantitative genetics. The Dzakovich Lab seeks to leverage analytical chemistry and plant breeding strategies to elucidate the genetic and environmental underpinnings of phytochemical metabolism, deliverability, and health impacts. In his free time, Michael has been learning guitar accompaniment of Andalusian folk music since 2008, distance cycling, building/repairing things, and all things food.
Hari Krishna Yalamanchili
Hari Krishna Yalamanchili (Hari) joined the CNRC as an assistant professor in February 2021, and he also has a secondary academic appointment at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, BCM. Prior to joining CNRC, Hari did his postdoctoral training primarily focusing on computational neurogenomics jointly in the laboratories of Dr. Zhandong Liu and Dr. Huda Zoghbi in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at BCM. His lab develops computational and machine learning models leveraging multi-omic datasets to understand the fundamental and translational aspects of various neurological disorders. His goal is to bridge computational and experimental approaches to decode complex biological phenomena. Making data talk is what keeps him motivated. His areas of investigation include RNA processing, regulatory network systems and epigenomics. At leisure, Hari is likes to cook, hike, camp, and travel.
Clavia Ruth Wooton-Kee
Clavia Ruth Wooton-Kee (Ruth) joined the CNRC as an assistant professor in January 2021, and she has a secondary academic appointment in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at BCM. Prior to joining the CNRC, Ruth was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David Moore in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at BCM. Her lab focuses on the molecular pathways that mediate hepatocellular injury and nuclear receptor regulation of metabolism. Ruth grew up in the Hyden, Kentucky, a small town in the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. Outside of her scientific pursuits, Ruth’s young family keeps her busy, and she has devoted much time in support of her daughter’s various extracurricular pursuits. Ruth also enjoys running, flower gardening, music, and hiking.
Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel
Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel (Ben) received his bachelor's degree in microbiology and chemistry from St. Cloud State University, and in 2004 received his doctoral degree in genetics from the University of Utah, where he trained under Nobel Laureate Dr. Mario Capecchi. From 2005-2010, he was a post-doctoral fellow with Drs Lawrence Katz and Michael Ehlers at Duke University. In December of 2010 Dr. Arenkiel joined the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics and holds adjunct positions in the Department of Neuroscience and the CNRC. Dr. Arenkiel grew up in north central Minnesota, where he enjoyed playing sports and spending time outdoors. His hobbies include gardening, fishing, and golfing. His lab is currently investigating how genes and activity interface to build, maintain, and remodel neuronal connections in the brain, as well as how basal forebrain circuits influence eating disorders and neuropsychiatric disease.