W&L professors receive $100K grant from research obesity, infertility link

wl-universityThree biology professors at Washington and Lee University in Lexington have won a $100,000 grant from the Jeffress Trust Awards Program in Interdisciplinary Research to investigate the link between obesity and infertility in women.

Sarah Blythe, Natalia Toporikova and Gregg Whitworth, assistant professors of biology, will apply the grant to research into the interactions between the female reproductive system and obesity. They will be assisted by more than a half dozen undergraduate lab assistants.

Over the past 20 years, obesity has become a health crisis around the world, associated with a number of medical problems, including reduced fertility. Some 15 percent of women receiving assisted reproductive therapy are overweight or obese, indicating a link.

“High-fat, high-sugar diets have been shown to produce alterations in reproductive hormone signaling,” Toporikova explained. “However, both the locus of action and the mechanism underlying these effects remain unclear. Therefore, to investigate this relationship, we have designed a three-step experimental approach.”

First, the research team will feed juvenile female rats with and without estrogen a high-fat, high-sugar diet for 12 weeks. They will then evaluate the levels of key reproductive hormones (e.g. luteinizing hormone and prolactin) at multiple time points to characterize any diet-induced changes in amplitude or timing. Second, they will collect physiologically relevant tissues (such as from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and abdominal fat) and use next-generation sequencing to examine alterations in gene expression levels.

“Finally, we will use a computer model to integrate the hormonal and molecular data in order to predict potential therapeutic strategies,” Toporikova said. “Our goal is to improve reproductive outcomes in overweight and obese women.”

Whitworth said that the new Jeffress Trust Award Program provides the opportunity to apply the tools of systems biology to fundamental questions about diet-induced obesity and reproductive physiology. As an educational opportunity for W&L students, we’re excited to see the reach of this project extend beyond our research labs and into the classroom.”

Blythe said that the Jeffress grant “represents a tremendous opportunity for students to participate in cutting-edge research that combines translational health research, bioinformatics and computational modeling.” She said that three undergraduates will be selected as Jeffress fellows to conduct summer research under the grant.



augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.