Collaborations

Research Collaborations

Research in the Nixon lab is conducted in collaboration with other researchers in the Minnesota Obesity Neuroscience Laboratory group, the Minnesota Obesity Center, the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. A brief summary of ongoing research topics and collaborators is listed below.

Neuroscience of Obesity and Energy Expenditure

Understanding and defining the neural mechanisms underlying individual propensity for weight gain is the primary goal of research conducted in collaboration with the Minnesota Obesity Neuroscience Laboratory (MnONLab), a group of independently funded researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis VAHCS. Prior work in the MnONLab group has investigated rodent strains that resist weight gain on a high energy diet, focusing on mechanisms which might confer obesity resistance through increased energy expenditure.

Dr. Nixon's involvement in this work primarily focuses on the role of the neuropeptides NPY and orexin in food intake and energy expenditure. This research includes in vivo behavioral and physiological measurements to measure physical activity, energy expenditure, and change in body composition during experimental interventions.

    Collaborators
  • Dr. Catherine Kotz (Minneapolis VAHCS; Minnesota Obesity Center; University of Minnesota Department of Food Science and Nutrition)
  • Dr. Charles Billington (Minneapolis VAHCS; Minnesota Obesity Center; University of Minnesota Department of Medicine)
  • Dr. ChuanFeng Wang (Minneapolis VAHCS; Minnesota Obesity Center)
  • Dr. Tammy Butterick (Minneapolis VAHCS; Minnesota Obesity Center)
Neurodegeneration and Cognitive Decline

    Dr. Nixon has recently begun collaborating with Drs. Michael Lee and James Cleary at the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis VAHCS on behavioral and cognitive testing of animal models of neurodegenerative disease. Animal models of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have been instrumental in developing therapies aimed at improving outcomes for AD and PD patients. Drs. Lee and Cleary are well-known experts in PD and AD research. Planned studies are aimed at characterizing cognitive changes during disease progression in various animal models, and investigating the extent to which genetic background and/or neuronal insult affects long-term outcome.

    Collaborators
  • Dr. Michael Lee (Minneapolis VAHCS; University of Minnesota Department of Neuroscience and Center for Neurodegenerative Disease)
  • Dr. James Cleary (Associate Director for Research, Geriatric Research, Education & Clinical Center (GRECC), Minneapolis VAHCS; University of Minnesota Department of Neurology and Center for Memory Research)
Oxidative Stress, Obesity, and Neuroprotection

    Much evidence suggests strong links between resistance to obesity and resistance to inflammation and/or neuronal disfunction caused by exposure to high energy diets. Work initially spearheaded by Dr. Tammy Butterick has shown that orexin can confer protection against oxidative damage in hypothalamic cell lines, and Dr. Nixon is actively working with Dr. Butterick to investigate the role of orexin in protection against diet-induced change in neuronal function in vitro and in vivo.

    In addition, Drs. Butterick and Nixon are collaborating with researchers in the Minneapolis VAHCS who are pursuing related studies investigating mechanisms protecting against oxidative damage in cardiac tissue.

    Collaborators
  • Dr. Tammy Butterick (Minneapolis VAHCS; Minnesota Obesity Center)
  • Dr. Rosemary Kelley (Minneapolis VAHCS; University of Minnesota Department of Surgery)
  • Dr. Edward McFalls (Minneapolis VAHCS; University of Minnesota Department of Medicine)
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