The UGA Obesity Initiative has awarded its first round of grants totaling $100,000 to four teams of researchers looking to better understand factors associated with obesity in children and adults.
The $25,000 preliminary data research grants will help achieve two critical goals, according to Clifton Baile, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Agricultural Biotechnology, -Distinguished Professor of Animal Science and Food and Nutrition, and director of the UGA Obesity Initiative.
“First, they will enhance collaboration between groups that have not previously worked together, thus increasing the novelty and innovation of the projects,” he said. “And second, the proposals chosen for funding have a high potential of obtaining data that will support funding of more comprehensive projects by external agencies.”
The funded research projects are:
• “Physical Activity and Overweight Children’s Academic Achievement,” a project by Phillip D. Tomporowski, Bryan McCullick and Michael Horvat, kinesiology professors in the College of Education. They will train paraprofessionals at Chase Street Elementary School to conduct field tests that measure how physical activity games affect children’s movement and motor skills. The group will use the results to submit a grant proposal to the Georgia Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program.
• “Sleep Apnea and Obesity Exacerbate Cardiovascular Disease via Epigenetic Mechanisms.” It will expand initial studies evaluating how epigenetics place sleep apnea patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Researchers include Brad Phillips, a clinical and administrative pharmacy faculty member in the College of Pharmacy; Jonathan Arnold and Richard Meagher, genetics professors in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Mary Anne Della-Fera, an animal and dairy science faculty member in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Alicia Smith, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences faculty member at Emory University.
• “Adenovirus, Obesity and Bone Strength in Preadolescent Children” seeks to better understand the relationship among obesity, bone density and adenovirus (Ad36) infections in young children. Because 90 percent of adult bone mass and strength is achieved before age 18, this study will seek data about younger children to determine factors and their mechanisms that optimize bone mineralization and strength in youth. Working on the project are Richard D. Lewis and Emma Laing in the foods and nutrition department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Ralph A. Tripp and Stephen M. Tompkins in the infectious diseases department of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
• “Determining the Link Between Adenovirus Infection and Obesity and the Ability of Mesenchymal Stem Cells to be Converted into Adipocytes, Chondrocytes and Osteocytes” seeks to determine if infection with specific adenovirus serotypes affect the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to be converted into adipocytes (fat cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and osteocytes (bone cells). Collaborators on the project include Tripp, Tompkins and Stephen Dalton, a faculty member in biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.