Jens Frey Halling

Jens Frey Halling, MSc, PhD

Mitochondrial energy expenditure in obesity (MITOBESITY)

Obesity is the fifth leading risk factor for death worldwide, but the treatment options are limited. After even a small weight loss, the body will respond by decreasing its basal energy expenditure (EE), which is likely a major factor in the difficulty of sustaining weight loss in the long term. About one third of basal EE in humans is used for heat production in mitochondria. However, the mechanisms that regulate mitochondrial EE are poorly understood.

This project will address this by using phosphoproteomics to find potential new drug targets that regulate EE in muscle mitochondria from human donors with/without obesity. In collaboration with Novo Nordisk, we will also examine mitochondrial EE in a pre-clinical minipig obesity model, which shows an extraordinary downregulation of EE upon energy restriction. Thus, the project aims to advance the translational understanding of mechanisms controlling EE, which will be of great importance in fighting the growing global obesity epidemic.

Mentors:

Basic mentor: Steen Larsen, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciencess, University of Copenhagen

Life science industry mentor:  Kirsten Raun, Scientific Director, Novo Nordisk A/S