For three decades, Dr. Nair's research program has focused on the role of energy metabolism, and the importance of altered protein turnover in diabetes and aging. Current projects address whether accumulation of damaged and modified proteins is related to altered protein turnover; factors that may contribute to co-morbidities such as insulin resistance and cardiovascular complications.
Our lab is also keenly interested in the underlying causes of type 2 diabetes in populations with genetic predisposition to the disease as they age. We are investigating the relationships between protein turnover, mitochondrial function, insulin resistance, and physical function. Energy metabolism studies are performed mainly in mitochondria isolated from skeletal muscle biopsy samples. Specific methods include mitochondrial respiration, ATP production rates, oxidant production, mitochondrial DNA abundance and mutations.
We also investigate the impact of various interventions of the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis. Analytical methods such as mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy allow us to study metabolic consequences of altered energy and protein metabolism. Much of our work involves the use of stable isotope tracers to label proteins in vivo and study synthesis and accumulation of individual proteins. Post-translational modifications especially carbonylation and deamidation are also studied by mass spectrometry. We use animal models to address the questions emerging from human studies that can not be answered in human experiments.