Dr. Piccolo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UAMS. He received his B.S. in Nutritional Sciences at Bastyr University in 2006 and a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology at the University of California, Davis in 2012. He did postdoctoral fellowships in Bioinformatics at the West Coast Metabolomics Center and the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis. He joined ACNC in 2015 and is now leading the ACNC Informatics Team. His holistic approach to research utilizes “Big Data” (i.e., coupling “omics” platforms, clinical parameters, physical activity measurements, nutrition and lifestyle variables) in order to identify individual phenotypes reflective of health status. Outside of his work, Dr. Piccolo likes to cook and travel with his wife, and enjoys racquetball and biking.
My research focuses on using large biological datasets from “–omics” technologies to characterize the interaction between lifestyle choices (e.g., diet and physical activity) and physiology. Currently, I’m interested in how diet and physical activity alters the xeno-metabolome (“non-self” gut microbe-derived metabolites) and how these metabolites influence host energy regulation. The microbiome plays a significant role in early development and function of the gut and other organs, but the specific microbes and their signaling molecules involved with these processes are not fully identified. It is also clear that one’s own health status influences the gut microbiome, but mechanisms underlying this are not clear. Metabolomics is the primary resource used to identify candidate metabolites, and these can be used to test the bioactivity of these molecules. Another key area of interest is using multivariate analyses and data mining techniques in our analysis workflow. The R statistical language is our primary tool to implement these statistical techniques because of its flexibility and ability to create interactive visualizations.