Dr. Yongguo Li, a member of the Chair of Molecular Nutritional Medicine at the Else Kröner-Fresenius Center for Nutritional Medicine, won the DFG-funded position "Head of an Emmy Noether Junior Research Group" this year. According to Dr. Li, in view of the two medical pandemics of obesity as well as type 2 diabetes, there is currently great interest in converting white adipose tissue from an energy storage organ into an energy consuming organ. This is partly because the underlying process, known as browning of white or beige fat, can be considered a potentially effective strategy to increase energy expenditure and thus indirectly combat obesity. However, a comprehensive understanding of the molecular network as well as epigenomic mechanisms underlying beige fat cell development has been lacking, Dr. Li discusses. Therefore, in his junior research group, he intends to conduct systematic analyses regarding the effects of natural genetic variation of inbred mouse strains in terms of transcription factor binding, genetic interactions, epigenetic state, and gene expression. In this way, he hopes to gain insights into how tanning capacity can be affected by genetic variation. Together with his team, Dr. Li will subsequently attempt to build a comprehensive molecular network that regulates white fat tanning. Based on this newly gained knowledge of the molecular architecture, Li believes that therapeutic approaches to combat metabolic imbalance could certainly be derived more easily in the future.
The project within the EN junior research group is designed to run for 6 years. In doing so, the junior research group is continuing a research project that was previously financially supported by the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation. The team under Dr. Li consists of three doctoral students and one technician.