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     Mentored Junior Faculty

Alcohol, Lymphatics and Intersection with Metabolism 
Dr. Flavia Souza Smith

This project is led by Dr. Flavia Souza-Smith and focuses on the effects of alcohol on lymphatic function and the crosstalk in between lymphatic vessels and perilymphatic adipose tissue (PLAT). In the US approximately 25% of individuals over the age of 12 binge drink alcohol at least once a month. Alcohol binge drinking increases the risk of metabolic syndrome. Specifically, chronic and binge alcohol drinking patterns result in gut bacterial toxin translocation, induce insulin resistance and impair insulin-dependent responses in adipose tissue. The approach is to investigate the effects of repeated binge-like alcohol intoxication-induced lymphatic bacteria and LPS dissemination, lymphatic vessel hyperpermeability, and lymphatic leakage of bacteria and LPS into PLAT, promoting PLAT inflammatory milieu and impairing adipokine profile; which she predicts play a role in development of alcohol-induced insulin resistance. The goal of these studies is to understand the mechanisms involved in alcohol-mediated disruption of lymphatic function and its impact on local and systemic metabolic regulation.










Dr. Flavia Souza Smith

Alcohol, HIV-Epigenetics of Skeletal Muscle Regeneration
Dr. Liz Simon

Chronic alcohol use and HIV can lead to multiple skeletal muscle derangements such as atrophy, dysfunction and general weakness which affects the quality of life of persons living with HIV. Chronic alcohol impairs the differentiation potential of skeletal muscle stem cells that is associated with reduced expression of myogenic genes, reflecting impaired skeletal muscle regenerative capacity. Using whole tissue and cell cultures together with molecular techniques, we are studying chronic alcohol-induced epigenetic modifications of myogenic gene transcription. Our current focus is to elucidate microRNA alterations and histone modifications that potentially contribute to impaired regeneration. Our ultimate goal is for integration of basic science and translational research, setting the stage for potential therapeutic or lifestyle interventions for reversing adverse consequences on skeletal muscle function seen with heavy alcohol consumption.
Recipient of a K01 Award for the study entitled:



Liz Simon










Dr. Liz Simon