Led by Dr. Suraj Unniappan, a full professor at the Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences [Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan], Laboratory of Integrative Neuroendocrinology is composed of a team of highly qualified personnel conducting research, training and teaching in comparative endocrinology. Our fundamental interest is to understand how endocrine factors regulate physiological homeostasis in vertebrates. Maintenance of energy balance is important for survival, growth and reproduction of organisms. Endocrine, autocrine and paracrine factors play a very important role in the regulation of energy balance in vertebrates. Hormones produced from the brain, gut, adipocytes and pancreas regulate feeding and metabolism. Growth is mediated by the hypothalamo-pituitary-insulin like growth factor axis, while reproduction, by factors arising primarily from the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. Several evidences indicate a tight interlinking of the endocrine regulation of metabolism, growth and reproduction. We are very keen to determine how these three physiological processes are integrated by endocrine factors. Using rodents and fish, and human and domestic animal tissues, we employ comparative and integrative approaches utilizing state-of-the art molecular and cellular (gene, protein and signaling molecules), physiological (functional genomics) and pharmacological tools to lead in vitro (tissues, cells), in vivo (whole animal physiology; genetic/transgenic models), in situ (perfusion) and in silico (genomics, proteomics, microarray) studies.
Our highly original, independent, innovative, inter/trans-disciplinary and collaborative research programs are broadly divided into three themes/pillars:
I: Neuroendocrine Integration of Metabolism and Reproduction in Fish: The main focus of this research program is to discover how novel gut/brain derived neuroendocrine factors integrate energy balance, growth and reproduction in fish.Funding: NSERC, CFI.
II: Hormones and Energy Balance, and Role of Hormones in Metabolic Diseases: We aim to unravel the role of peptide endocrine factors in regulating glucose and energy balance and its mechanism of actions, and how these hormones are implicated in metabolic diseases, including diabetes and obesity.Funding: CIHR, SHRF, CFI.
III: Veterinary/Domestic Animal and Human Endocrinology: Under this emerging program, we collaborate with veterinarians and physicians to gain better understanding of endocrinology and endocrine disorders of humans and commercially important domestic animals.Funding: Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan.
IMPACT AND SIGNIFICANCE: Our research programs strive to make groundbreaking advances in endocrinology and transform current concepts. It will help: (i) the knowledge base: by providing significant advancement in our current understanding on hormonal integration of physiology, (ii) aquaculture: to develop and utilize hormones and feed based strategies to enhance growth and reproduction in fish, (iii) health: to develop potential disease predictors and therapies for humans and domestic animals, and (iv) the training of future experts: by providing higher education and training opportunities for a large number of students and technical experts. Overall, the outcome of our research could eventually benefit Canadians and the global population by helping to improve food security and health. It also helps Canada in maintaining a leadership role in endocrine research, and the training and supply of highly skilled experts to sustain endocrinology.