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Katherine Pinnick

DPhil; BSc (Hons)

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a postdoctoral researcher within the Metabolic Research Group at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). My current area of research explores the effects of dietary free sugars (ie sucrose and fructose) on human adipose tissue function. 

Excessive consumption of foods rich in free sugars has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Using a combination of in vitro cellular models and whole-body human physiology studies I am investigating the metabolic fate of free sugars in the adipocyte and their impact on adipose tissue biology. I have a particular interest in the regulation of human body fat distribution and its contribution to metabolic health. By performing transcriptomic profiling of regional adipose tissues (abdominal, gluteofemoral) we have identified a set of differentially expressed genes which may regulate regional adipocyte development (adipogenesis). I am currently involved in ongoing studies to further characterise the role of these genes using knockout and overexpression systems in human preadipocytes as well as exploring epigenetic mechanisms which mediate tissue specific gene expression.

Prior to my work in the adipose field I completed a DPhil in the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford. The focus of my thesis was to investigate the effects of pancreatic fat accumulation on islet beta cell function. Within OCDEM I play an active role in the graduate studies program. I currently co-supervise two DPhil students and sit on the departmental Graduate Studies Committee. I also run metabolism tutorials for undergraduates studying Medicine and Biochemistry at the University of Oxford.