Qi Wu named prestigious
2013 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Qi Wu, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology in the University of Iowa
Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has been selected as a 2013
Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.
Wu is one of just 22 scientists nationwide to receive the prestigious
four-year, $240,000 award from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Pew's scholars program, launched in 1985, has granted more than $120 million
in funding to more than 500 scientists at the beginning of their independent
careers. The program is rigorously competitive and supports outstanding
early-career scientists researching the basis of perplexing health
problems—including diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. The awards
are specifically designed to be flexible in terms of how the money is used,
allowing the recipients to take calculated risks, expand their research, and
follow unanticipated leads.
"I am extremely honored to receive this award from the Pew Charitable
Trusts," Wu says. "This award will provide our laboratory the resources to
pursue exciting new scientific directions."
Wu's lab investigates the regulation of appetite and energy metabolism by the
central nervous system (CNS). Uncontrolled intake of calorie-dense foods and
lack of physical exercise has contributed to the epidemic of obesity in the
United States. Appetite is known to be controlled at several levels in the CNS;
however, little is known as to how feeding is processed in the brain to cause
changes in behavior. In previous research, Wu demonstrated that over-activation
of a brain center called the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) disrupts feeding and
leads to starvation. Improving receptor signaling for the neurotransmitter GABA
calms the excited PBN cells and reverses the anorexia in mice.
Using viral-based genetic approaches, Wu and colleagues aim to identify the
neurons releasing GABA -- thus mediating appetite in variable energy states --
as well as their role in control of food intake and energy balance. This work
could point the way to possible treatments for eating disorders such as anorexia
nervosa and food addiction, as well as metabolic disorders, such as type 2
“Dr. Wu is an exceptionally gifted and creative scientist who uses the most
advanced approaches to understand fundamental neural mechanisms controlling
appetite and food intake. His research has clear implications for understanding
the mechanisms controlling obesity,” says Curt Sigmund, Ph.D., chair and
department executive officer of pharmacology.
Wu earned a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology in 2005 from the
University of Georgia, where he worked with Dr. Ping Shen. He trained as a
postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry and neuroscience from 2006 to 2011 in the
laboratory of Dr. Richard Palmiter at the University of Washington. He joined
the faculty of the University of Iowa in 2012.
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Room W319 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009 (http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/Newsarticle.aspx?id=18963)