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Surgical Sciences

Metabolic Physiology

The Department of Surgery has a longstanding and successful history of studying metabolic substrate utilization in humans and animals, providing fundamental insight into the metabolic dysfunction that occurs in response to disease, trauma, inactivity, or aging. The group’s labs are based within UTMB’s Burns, Trauma, and Critical Care research facility and overseen by Andrew Murton, Ph.D.

Researchers in the Metabolic Physiology group are actively engaged in a diverse range of projects, working closely with a network of institutional, national, and international collaborators. Areas of focus include delineating the impact of diet on muscle metabolic health with age, establishing the role of ectopic lipid deposition in the etiology of burn-induced metabolic dysfunction, and determining the influence of mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species on muscle protein homeostasis.

Researchers in the Department of Surgery have access to an array of cutting-edge equipment to support work at the intersection between physiology and metabolism. This includes a state-of-the-art Thermo Delta V gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometer and two Agilent gas chromatography mass spectrometers, underpinning the group’s capability to apply isotopically labelled substrates for the dynamic study of metabolism in humans and animals. The group’s mass spec capabilities are further reinforced through extensive links with UTMB Pepper Center’s Mass Spectrometry Laboratory.

The lab also includes four Oroboros high-resolution respirometers, permitting the study of bioenergetics in isolated mitochondria, permeabilized tissues, and living cells. The respirometers include optional O2k-fluorometeric sensors, permitting the measurement of hydrogen peroxide production, mitochondrial membrane potential, and calcium concentrations where required.