Metabolism and Nutrition (MeNu) Program


Metabolism and Nutrition (MeNu) Program

Van Andel Institute’s Metabolism and Nutrition (MeNu) Program is a collaborative effort to understand the impact of diet and nutrition on human health at the molecular level, with a focus on the relationship between nutrition and inflammation in chronic diseases.

The program is led by Russell Jones, Ph.D., chair of VAI’s Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming.

Questions? Please contact MeNu Program Manager Kelsey Williams, Ph.D., at [email protected].

VAI’s integrated mass spectrometry platform is among the best in the U.S. The powerful analysis it provides will enable our scientists to determine detailed information about the molecules that fuel metabolism.

As part of the MeNu Program, new proteomics capabilities are being added to the mass spectrometry services available in-house. Currently, our metabolomics capabilities allow us to read the nouns — the metabolites — in the sentence but not the verbs — the proteins/enzymes. Proteomics will expand our capabilities so that we not only read the metabolites present but also capture the actions taken on the metabolites. This is the state-of-the-art technology needed to fully understand metabolic pathways from start to finish.

For more information, please visit the Mass Spectrometry Core website here.

Collaboration is at the heart of VAI’s mission to support groundbreaking, life-changing science. To this end, the MeNu Program funds VAI scientists in support of innovative, early-stage research projects, with an emphasis on collaborative pilot studies and developing new tools for metabolism research. Future funding will support larger cross-functional teams seeking to answer paradigm-shifting questions in the field of metabolism.

For information on how VAI investigators may apply for these funding opportunities, please contact MeNu Program Manager Kelsey Williams, Ph.D., at [email protected].

As part of our commitment to training the next generation of scientists, we are pleased to offer our Pathway-to-Independence Award, which will provide funding to selected senior postdoctoral fellows at VAI interested in launching independent tenure-track research careers. The program will present up to two awards each year, which will provide two years of project support under the guidance of their mentor.

For more information, please contact MeNu Program Manager Kelsey Williams, Ph.D., at [email protected].

Although each person’s metabolism is unique, there are common features that can inform our understanding of metabolism’s role in health and disease. Our 1,000 Metabolomes Project aims to create a dedicated biorepository to house vital biological samples that will provide an important window into the physiological changes associated with variations in metabolism and disease.

The 1,000 Metabolomes Biorepository will be housed in the Institute’s accredited Biorepository. Informed consent is obtained through our clinical partners. Donors remain anonymous.

2023 Rising Stars in Metabolism Symposium

Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Metabolism & Nutrition (MeNu) Program, together with the Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming, is pleased to host the 2023 Rising Stars in Metabolism Symposium. We have invited nine postdoctoral fellows who are leaders in the field of metabolism research to present their work at VAI with the goal of increasing the visibility of their research and interacting with the Institute’s vibrant metabolism research community. This symposium will feature: a keynote address from Dr. Natalie Niemi, a VAI alumna who is now an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis; seminars by each postdoctoral invitee; a career enrichment and mentoring panel; and networking opportunities that will foster connections and future collaborations.

This symposium is closed. For more information, please contact MeNu Program Manager Kelsey Williams, Ph.D., at [email protected].

Long-lived mitochondrial proteins – what are they and why do they exist?

Institution: Northwestern University

Ewa Bomba-Warczak obtained her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. For her graduate thesis, she used microfluidic cell culture platforms, advanced microscopy, and biochemistry to investigate the entry, sorting, and trafficking of clostridial neurotoxins in neurons. She is currently a MOSAIC K99/R00 Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University where she applies in vivo whole rodent metabolic stable isotope pulse-chase labeling and mass spectrometry-based analysis to investigate the lifelong fidelity of mitochondrial proteome and genome in mammalian brains.

A CRISPRi/a screening platform to study cellular nutrient transport in diverse microenvironments

Institution: Harvard Medical School

Chris Chidley is an independent research fellow at Harvard Medical School working with Peter Sorger. Chris uses genetic screening approaches targeting transporters to study nutrient transport, determine how extracellular nutrient levels influence cancer cell metabolism, and explore the nutrient requirements imposed by the tumor microenvironment. 

Pinpointing subcellular transporters via organellar IP and untargeted metabolomics

Institution: Stanford University

Wentao Dong is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Monther Abu-Remaileh Lab at Stanford University. He has been working on cancer and neurometabolism via organellar immunoprecipitation (LysoIP and GolgiIP), untargeted metabolomic/lipidomics and isotope tracing. Wentao received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos Lab at MIT and his BS in Chemical Engineering from University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is the recipient of the 10th Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL) Research Prize, Novo Nordisk Foundation International Research Alliance Fellowship, David H. Koch Fellowship, Meyer Scholarship, E.J. Crosby Award and Schmid Scholarship. 

A Comprehensive Single-Nucleus Atlas of the Human White Adipose Tissue Transcriptome Identifies Metabolically Distinct Mature Adipocytes and Reveals TSHZ3 as a Crucial Regulator of Adipogenesis

Institution: Harvard Medical School – Joslin Diabetes Center  

Dr. Vissarion Efthymiou received his Ph.D. at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he conducted research in the field of obesity, unraveling novel pathways that regulate brown adipose tissue functionality. Currently, Dr. Efthymiou is a postdoctoral fellow at Prof. Mary-Elizabeth Patti’s Lab at Harvard Medical School – Joslin Diabetes Center, focusing on research related to epigenetic regulators that mediate the fasting response in the liver as well as on unraveling heterogeneity of the human white adipose tissue at the single-cell level. In the near future, Dr. Efthymiou will pursue academic faculty positions, aiming to lead his independent research group and aspiring to focus on research related to the crosstalk between liver and adipose tissue in order to promote therapies against metabolic diseases. 

Nuclear receptor corepressors non-canonically regulate glucose metabolism

Institution: University of Pennsylvania – Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Lazar laboratory within the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania. My training is rooted in biochemistry, lipid metabolism, and epigenomics and has led me to a strong interest in the study of mechanisms by which metabolic stimuli intersect with the epigenome to regulate transcription in health and disease. I hope to use my experience and expertise in these areas to establish an independent research group with a focus on the epigenomic mechanisms that drive metabolic disease. 

Regulation of cell fate by metabolism

Institution: University of Michigan

Peggy Hsu, M.D., Ph.D. is an oncologist and scientist interested in cell fate regulation, early tumorigenesis, and metabolic alterations in lung cancer. Dr. Hsu completed a joint M.D./Ph.D. program at Harvard Medical School and MIT followed by internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MGH Cancer Center. She is currently the inaugural Rogel Fellow at the University of Michigan.  

Exploiting ketone body metabolism to tune CD8+ T cell effector function

Institution: Van Andel Institute

Dr. Joseph Longo received his B.Sc. from the Honours Molecular Biology and Genetics Program at McMaster University, after which he completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Rusty Jones’ lab at Van Andel Institute, where he is actively investigating how diet and nutrition influence tumor metabolism and anti-tumor immunity. 

Metabolic control of cell identity across scales

Institution: University of Southern California

Khoa Tran Phuc Le is a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Yali Dou at the University of Southern California. His work focuses on understanding how the interplay between metabolism and epigenetics regulates cellular plasticity. Because defects in the metabolic-epigenetic crosstalk are fundamental for many pathological conditions, understanding its basic principle will help develop effective treatments for metabolic and developmental diseases. 

Genetic and environmental suppressors of mitochondrial dysfunction

Institution: Broad Institute at Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital

Joshua Meisel is a postdoctoral scholar in the labs of Vamsi Mootha and Gary Ruvkun at MGH/Broad. Meisel’s research is focused on identifying novel genetic and environmental suppressors of mitochondrial dysfunction using the nematode C. elegans. Meisel holds a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the recipient of the Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award. Meisel is an avid bird watcher who favors water and shore birds. 

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