Metabolism: From Lavoisier to Metabolomics

Malcolm Watford (Nutritional Sciences)

How often have you heard the statement “I am fat because I have a slow metabolism”? In this course we will study all aspects of metabolism from the first studies of Lavoisier in 1776, when he placed a guinea pig, named Gina, in a calorimeter, to the present day field of Metabolomics. We will consider how metabolism is changed in conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer, and how understanding such changes may lead to innovative treatments. Each topic will begin with some historical details, but the main part of our discussions will focus on the potential of individualized medicine and nutrition to maintain a healthy metabolism. Topics will include: Brown Fat, the fat that makes you thin; Leptin, the cure for obesity (that wasn’t); the Warburg effect in Cancer cells; and treatment of diabetes by gene therapy to change metabolism. The answer to the opening question posed here? A slow metabolism is not the reason you are fat, the evidence for which will be discussed in class.