WABI reports on Townsend’s grant to study aging fat tissue

WABI (Channel 5) spoke with Kristy Townsend, an assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of Maine, about her recent $750,000 grant from the American Heart Association to study the aging of fat tissue and its effects on cardiovascular and metabolic conditions. The project, a collaboration with a researcher at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, could lead to breakthroughs when it comes to diabetes and obesity, WABI reported. The researchers, who will study the fat tissue of older mice, have found that over time, the tissue can lose its nerve supply, which impacts communication with the brain and can lead to obesity and diabetes. The study aims to find ways to reverse that process, WABI reported. “There’s a lot of aging research going on in Maine right now,” Townsend said. “We have the oldest median age of any state in the country. This is a molecular project looking at aging, and not just looking at how we can improve the care of the elderly as they get older, but also to look at the mechanisms behind healthy aging and how it might be able to promote more healthy aging in Maine’s population and how that might even relate to metabolism. So, healthy diet and exercise, things like that.” Much of the work on the study is being done by UMaine students, according to Townsend, who said she hopes the project inspires other students to get involved with research.