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Gut Bacteria Could be Linked to Childhood Obesity

Sept. 7, 2012

A collaborative team at Marquette University, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI) to study the link between bacteria found in the gut and childhood and adult obesity.

Marilyn Frenn, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at Marquette University, is the primary investigator of the grant.

Co-primary investigators are Nita Salzman, M.D., Ph.D., MCW and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; and Pippa Simpson, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin. Both are researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute.

More than 31 percent of the child population and 66 percent of the adult population is overweight or obese. Contributing factors include genetic and environmental factors; organisms found in the lower human intestine are also suspected to play a role. Obesity may be affected depending on the type of microbiota within the gut. The study aims to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of combining prebiotics and calcium treatments with a diet and physical activity educational program. That program will be aimed at predominately overweight and obese children in grades 4-6.

This is one of 19 pilot projects being funded in 2012 through CTSI. The goal is to create synergy through collaboration, and studies are specifically designed to lead to major research support. The projects explore findings that have the potential to be translated into clinical practice and community health, and are led by investigators at the CTSI’s eight partnering institutions: the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

CTSI is part of a national consortium of top medical research institutions. Working together, the CTSI institutions are committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments, and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research. The CTSI program is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support for the Pilot Award Program comes from Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center (BBC) and the John and Jeanne Byrnes CTSI Award.
 

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