Adipose tissue dysfunction is at the core of the burgeoning obesity and diabetes epidemics. However, little is known about the parental influence on early life development of adipose tissue and its role in offspring health. Dr. Wankhade is interested in understanding the developmental origins of childhood and adult obesity, specifically the long-term consequences of parental behavior and dietary habits on the offspring health and disease. For example, parental obesity negatively affects offspring health, whereas behavioral modifications such as exercise are supposed to reduce offspring’s predisposition to metabolic diseases.
Exciting recent advances have led to a renewed understanding and identification of thermogenic, anti-obesogenic ‘beige’ adipose tissue. In his laboratory, Dr. Wankhade’s team is studying the developmental origin of beige as well as classical white and brown adipose tissue depots. Along with traditional techniques such as cell culture and animal models, he is leveraging high-throughput genomic methodologies such as RNA-seq, DNA methylation and microbial ecology analysis to answer novel questions in metabolic programming. The overall objectives of these studies are aimed at gaining a better mechanistic understanding of the physiological basis of fetal programming to provide novel opportunities for effective intervention. By identifying mechanisms orchestrating cellular level developmental programming of adipose tissue, his findings will provide new insights into the cellular and molecular basis of adipose tissue function and its role in metabolic regulation.