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Smith is recipient of GSA’s Nathan Shock New Investigator Award

June 14, 2016



Daniel L. Smith, Jr., PhDDaniel L. Smith, Jr., PhD, assistant professor in the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) and Department of Nutrition Sciences, is the recipient of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Nathan Shock New Investigator Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the study of aging through his innovative and influential research.

Dr. Smith has investigated multiple facets of aging research, from genetic to nutrition influences on longevity. He has co-authored papers in organisms ranging from single-celled yeast to animal models that comprise nutrition-based manipulations or interventions, including testing the effect of compounds that may function as calorie restriction mimetics. Ongoing studies include the use of diabetes drugs, e.g. acarbose, as calorie restriction mimetics and longevity extending interventions. He has also worked as co-investigator with David B. Allison, PhD, distinguished professor and director of the NORC, on a longevity research project through the National Institute on Aging, studying the effects of repeated bouts of weight loss (by calorie restriction) and regain with re-feeding as a model of weight cycling (sometimes called yo-yo dieting) on body composition, metabolism, disease, and longevity in a rodent model.

Dr. Smith’s current research includes the study of nutrient by gene and nutrient by environment interactions in health and aging. This includes the yeast model of chronological lifespan where high-throughput, phenotypic analyses are being performed using a robotic platform to interrogate the interaction between nutrient sensing pathways and nutrient availability in the control of cellular aging. Additionally, the impact of environmental factors, such as ambient temperature, on cellular and organismal metabolism and health is being pursued in rodent models. An example of this work was demonstrated by the ability to measure differences in white versus brown adipose tissue using magnetic resonance based techniques like chemical-shift-encoded fat-water MRI in mice housed at different ambient temperatures. The cross-sectional results demonstrated that MRI measurement of FF within the interscapular BAT in mice reflects recent functional status of the tissue, accompanied by significantly greater food intake, yet reduced body weight and body fat. These and other studies contribute to a growing body of literature suggesting nutrient-environment or nutrient-gene interactions, which could be particularly relevant for nutrition, obesity, and aging researchers who use animal models, require further attention to address long-standing questions regarding fundamental mechanisms of metabolism and aging, and address an increasing awareness of the need for rigor and reproducibility in pre-clinical research.