Mitch Granade, a recent Pharmacology graduate from the Harris lab, has won the Jill E. Hungerford Award for 2022. This award is given annually to a doctoral student who exemplifies a commitment, achievement, and passion for research aimed at broadening scientific knowledge.
We asked Mitch to tell us about his research and his hopes for the future. Here’s what he said.
Tell us about your research.
My research has focused on the mechanisms that regulate lipid metabolism, particularly in adipose tissue, and how defects in these regulatory mechanisms can contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome. As a major storage site for excess energy in the body, adipose tissue is a critical regulator of energy balance which must rapidly shift between lipid storage during feeding and lipid release (lipolysis) during fasting. Adenosine is a signaling molecule that reduces lipolysis and enhances lipid storage in adipocytes, and we found that adenosine signaling through the A1 adenosine receptor in adipocytes augments insulin signaling to more rapidly shutdown lipolysis during feeding. Further, loss of this A1 receptor in adipose tissue leads to reduced glucose tolerance in obese mice. Counterintuitively, we also found that insulin downregulates the A1 receptor after feeding and desensitizes adipocytes to adenosine signaling through this receptor. This downregulation may serve as a feedback mechanism that enables adipocytes to rapidly increase lipolysis as the body transitions back into the fasted state. In obese mice, the A1 receptor is chronically downregulated in adipose tissue and its regulation by fasting and feeding is lost, which may contribute to the development of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.
What drives or motivates your scientific pursuits?
I am constantly fascinated by the complexity of biology and I love learning how small changes at a molecular level can have drastic effects on the whole body. I am driven to understand how changes in these signaling pathways in biology can lead to disease with the goal of developing new therapeutics.
What are your future goals?
I am currently a postdoc researching non-alcoholic fatty liver disease at Pfizer. I aim to continue studying metabolism in the pharmaceutical industry to help create better treatments for these challenging diseases.
Congratulations on winning this award, Mitch!