My overarching research vision is to understand the mechanisms that underlie skeletal muscle atrophy and metabolic deterioration in catabolic situations, and to design interventional strategies to attenuate or even prevent this rapid deterioration. Such interventions may encompass nutrition, (in)voluntary muscle contraction, and/or pharmacological approaches.
My most important research contributions have been to demonstrate that disuse-induced insulin resistance fully occurs within 2 days of forearm immobilization and is accompanied by a reduction in muscle amino acid uptake. This work has increased our understanding of the role of muscle contraction in the development of insulin resistance and anabolic resistance, and its importance was recognised internationally by the award of the 2021 Vernon Young International Award for Amino Acid Research from the American Society for Nutrition. These novel findings were published in leading peer-reviewed journals in the field, including Diabetes and The Journal of Physiology, and presented in various invited presentations at (inter)national conferences.
In my current Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship, I am performing detailed in vivo metabolic studies to test the novel hypothesis that muscle fuel availability and integration are responsible for disuse-induced muscle atrophy. Techniques used include stable isotope tracer infusion combined with the arteriovenous forearm balance method and muscle biopsy sampling, under insulin clamp conditions. Additional iindependent research funding from the Nutricia Research Foundation and Physiological Society is enabling me to gain further mechanistic insight in the effects of feeding on muscle protein metabolism.