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One of our emphases in recent years has centered on the mechanisms the body uses to recognize and respond to dietary fat. This is of particular importance given the recent epidemic of obesity, which is linked at least in part with an over consumption of dietary fat. With a focus on the gustatory system, we have identified a number of mechanisms that underlie our ability to respond to free fatty acids, the prototypical 'fatty' stimulus. Much of the research has centered on the response to the essential, or polyunsaturated, fatty acids and we have recently proposed a model for the specific elements of this entire transduction pathway.  More recently, however, we have found that mice respond to a wider variety of fatty acids than previously thought, including short-to-long chain saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, and we have identified a number of putative receptors for these compounds.  We are currently working on the transduction pathways for the entire repertoire of fatty acid responses in the gustatory system.  In addition, we are exploring the ability of the digestive and somatosensory systems to respond to the chemical cues contained in dietary fat.

A few of our recent papers in this area can be found here

This project is funded by the National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders - by an active R01 and R21 grants.