Peter Ikhianosimhe Imoesi
My name is Peter Ikhianosimhe Imoesi a Translational Neuroscience PhD student in Professor Peter McCaffery’s laboratory at the University of Aberdeen and I am a Nigerian trained Biochemist. I did my Master of Science degree programme in Molecular Biology (MSc – Distinction) at the University of Hertfordshire, England and there I first became fascinated in the field of Neuroscience. I am a recipient of a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone PhD scholarship and my recent work on obesity is supported by the MRC Discovery@Aberdeen Research Grant.
The hypothalamus, which is the key region of the brain responsible for body homeostasis, forms the centre of my research. How this region of the brain controls vitamin A homeostasis and subsequently the role of vitamin A in body weight gain (obesity) is one of the focuses of my PhD project. Obesity is the problem of our age and in Scotland 65% of adults are overweight and 29% obese (2015 figures) with the inevitable higher incidence of associated disorders including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. People need to lose weight – but how to do this. The region of the brain known as the hypothalamus controls our hunger and many studies have investigated the brain circuitry guiding this with the eventual aim to develop drugs that reduce the compelling desire to overeat.
Retinoids are a set of molecules that influence weight gain which derive from the essential nutrient vitamin A. How these molecules influence body weight is uncertain with ideas including a direct action on fat cells. We have strong evidence however that an important site of action of vitamin A is the hypothalamus and that this may be a key to the way vitamin A and retinoids control weight gain. This project will test this hypothesis by using the expertise from the MRC Discovery scheme to experimentally interfere with normal vitamin A function, specifically in the mouse hypothalamus – these methods either remove or overstimulate genes in the hypothalamus and not in other regions of the body, such as fat cells. These methods will allow a precise test of our idea; that inhibition of vitamin A function in the hypothalamus will reduce weight gain on a high fat diet. The discoveries made in this project will help direct this research with the potential for novel retinoid based drugs to reduce weight gain.