Nutrition, Metabolism and Genomics

The mission of the Nutrition, Metabolism and Genomics group is to contribute to a better understanding of the molecular mechanism of action of dietary nutrients and their impact on human health and metabolism. Particular attention is given to the role of dietary lipids and fiber.

The primary focus is on the key organs relevant for metabolism represented by the intestine, liver, and adipose tissue, and the interplay between these organs and other relevant systems such as the immune system and the microbiome. A multi-pronged approach is used that ranges from dietary intervention studies in human subjects to physiological experiments in transgenic animals and detailed mechanistic studies in vitro, supported by advanced nutrigenomics technology platforms. The research activities of the chair group are closely aligned with the activities of the other chair groups within the Division of Human Nutrition and Health. The key distinguishing feature of the chair group Nutrition, Metabolism and Genomics is the strong emphasis on the application of molecular approaches in research and teaching on human nutrition and metabolism.

Studies are geared towards expanding our knowledge of the molecular physiology of nutrient metabolism in health and metabolic diseases and elucidating what key regulatory pathways go awry during disease development and aging. Research in the group covers the following main themes:

1. Molecular regulation of lipid metabolism.

The aim is to further understand the molecular regulation of lipid metabolism in liver, adipose tissue, and intestine, partly via elucidating the functional role of specific genes.

2. Immunometabolism , adipose tissue, and metabolic health.

The aim is to better understand the role of the adipose tissue and the immune system in metabolic dysregulation caused by overnutrition and characterize the underlying mechanisms using molecular and omics tools.

3. Nutritional regulation of intestinal health.

The focus is on the nutritional programming and systems biology of intestinal health, with special interest in dietary fiber, the gut microbiome, food digestion, transcriptomics, and epigenetics.

4. Systems approaches to understand the mechanisms of malnutrition

The overarching goal within our group is to understand the molecular mechanisms driving inter-individual variation in response to childhood severe malnutrition, and how it impacts recovery and eventually life in the long-term. To address this, we will use systems biology approaches, i.e. integration of metabolomics, lipidomics, proteomics, genomics, using both pre-clinical and epidemiological/clinical studies.

The group contributes to the curriculum of the BSc and MSc programme in Nutrition and Health at Wageningen University & Research by offering a variety of courses on topics ranging from nutrition and health to nutritional biochemistry, advanced metabolism, and nutrigenomics.