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Even if a pattern of eating does not provide an excess of calories, the types and relative amounts of carbohydrate, fat, and protein consumed can lead to “abnormalities” in metabolism in liver, adipose tissue, and muscle. Some of these effects are due to changes in regulation of metabolic pathways by insulin. “Insulin Resistance” (IR) refers to any decrease in the effect of a given concentration of insulin; IR is an early event in the development of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
We have been studying the effects of diets that are low in calories but have a high percentage of particular types of fats. Such diets alter the liver’s metabolic response to insulin, as seen in the hormone’s regulation of gene expression and blood glucose level.
In our lab, we investigate the metabolism of lipids, focusing on lipolysis, the mechanism of hydrolysis of triacylglycerols, which is the main form of energy storage in adipose tissue (or fat).
We focus on the enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of triacylglycerol, like adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), and proteins that regulate the process, in particular ABHD5 (alpha beta hydrolase domain 5). We are interested in how these proteins regulate the hydrolysis of lipids.
These proteins are important because mutations that inactivate them cause accumulation of lipids in the liver, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the most common liver disease, and it is strongly associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Moreover, NAFLD can lead to cell death, inflammation, cirrhosis, and cancer.
We use in-vitro assay, cell culture, and mouse models, and techniques of molecular biology, protein purification and analysis, enzymology, and lipidomics.
Our objective is to better understand the metabolism of triacylglycerols and its alterations in NAFLD and obesity, and to identify new ways to prevent and treat these diseases.
We investigate how taste and smell influence diet and health. In particular, we focus on understanding individual differences in why we like what we like, and how these individual differences can influence dietary choices. For example, humans are born to like sweet-tasting foods and beverages. However, some people also like sweet taste more than others. My goal is to understand how genetic, environmental, and cultural factors interact to affect personalized taste preferences, and how personal preference ultimately leads to nutrient consumption.
Margrethe Horlyck-Romanovsky is public health nutrition professional committed to addressing intra-ethnic health inequities among people of African descent. Her mixed methods research compares risk factors, health behaviors, and disease profiles of African Americans, African immigrants, and Afro-Caribbean immigrants. She is well-versed in nutritional epidemiology and dietary acculturation, specifically among Afro-Caribbeans and Africans living in New York City.
Dedicated to mentoring the next generation of nutrition and epidemiology researchers, Horlyck-Romanovsky welcomes students to apply to work on her current research projects:
Apply here for a position in Assistant Professor Horlyck-Romanovsky’s Immigrant Health Lab.
Motherhood is not easy. What this mom eats affects her pups in the long term.
Our lab is interested in the metabolism and functions of nutrients participating in one carbon metabolism, such as choline, folate, and vitamin B12. Our recent research shows that supplementation of choline during pregnancy prevents fetal overgrowth and excess adiposity in mice with gestational diabetes. Using various techniques such as epigenetic and metabolomic analyses and in collaboration with local hospitals, we are exploring the mechanisms by which prenatal exposure to one carbon nutrients “programs” cardio-metabolic disease development of offspring in rodent models and human patients.
Diagram of social and behavioral determinants of health, syndemics and health disparities
We have been investigating social and behavioral determinants of health, syndemics and health disparities. Our overarching research areas are prevention of transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, and prevention of fatal drug overdose. We are currently focusing on two specific projects: one comparing trends in heroin and prescription opioid use over time by racial/ethnic group, and another attempting to understand how generational changes in social norms may be related to changes in drug use and risk of HIV infection and overdose.
View of two different growing conditions, soil based vs ‘permaponics’
We are comparing two different growing conditions, soil based versus “permaponics” on growth and secondary metabolites of selected plants. Permaponics is a soil-less based system that combines the best features of both hydroponics and aquaponics to create a system that is both energy efficient and environmentally sound.