Baack Lab

Graduate Student Mentor
COBRE Project Leader

Primary Research Focus

The goal of the Baack Lab is to understand the role of lipid metabolism, mitochondria and oxidative stress in the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). 

Disease actually starts long before any symptoms ever develop and is often triggered by genetic and environmental influences. When an environmental stimulus occurs during a critical window of early development it can change gene expression to cause life-long changes in the structure and function of the body, this is called developmental programming. 

Infants born to diabetic or obese mothers are at higher risk of heart disease at birth and as an adult, likely due to exposure to excess circulating fuels (glucose and lipids) in utero. Even more, this risk can extend to the next generation. While improving glucose control during pregnancy is the standard of care, we found that dietary fat intake is likely an additional factor that determines the health of both mother and her baby. 

Using a rat model, we discovered that excess circulating fats from maternal diabetes and a high-fat diet damage mitochondria in the developing fetal heart, leading to impaired metabolism, energy production, contractility, and a greater risk of cell death (heart attack) in adulthood. 

With this understanding, our lab is developing methods to detect, prevent and treat heart disease in high-risk babies and the second generation.


About the Baack Lab

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