Focus Areas

Dr. Acosta's Precision Medicine for Obesity Lab is focused on the mechanisms and regulation of appetite, satiation and satiety, including the role of gastric function, gastrointestinal hormones, taste preferences, bile acids, and enterohepatic regulation and gut energy utilization. Research focus areas include:

Human obesity physiological phenotyping

Identifying unique characteristics in human obesity will accelerate the translation of basic science research into human obesity, resulting in a better understanding of the disease as well as innovative and novel treatments. Recent studies in Dr. Acosta's lab uncovered several subgroups of human obesity, also known as obesity-related phenotypes, which possess distinctive pathophysiological abnormalities, associated with differential responses to obesity pharmacotherapy. Each phenotype possesses distinctive pathophysiological abnormalities. These phenotypes include:

  • Abnormal satiation
  • Abnormal satiety
  • Emotional eating behavior
  • Abnormal resting energy expenditure

The lab makes extensive use of precision medicine tools and physiological, neuroscience and biomedical engineering techniques to evaluate obesity heterogeneity. These tools include well-validated measurements of:

  • Food intake by ad libitum buffet meal and nutrient drink feeding paradigms
  • Gastric and intestinal physiology by gastric emptying, gastric volume and accommodation, gastrointestinal hormones, bile acid circulation, and microbiome
  • Brain imaging by Functional Magnetic Resonance – Pulse Arterial Label Spinning
  • Energy expenditure by indirect calorimetry, NEAT activity and exercise

Our innovative approach to human obesity physiological phenotyping is supported by multiomics cores to study genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics from plasma, tissue and stool from humans with obesity.

Obesity pharmacotherapy

In addition to building on the uniqueness of obesity phenotypes, the Precision Medicine for Obesity Lab is identifying novel-patentable pathways and compounds involved in the pathophysiology of obesity development and maintenance and development of these targets into new obesity therapeutics.

Our research utilizes a combination of next-generation sequencing, advanced cell imaging, novel cell sorting methods, molecular biology, physiology, pharmacology, proteomics, metabolomics, and gastrointestinal and brain imaging. The research team is using clinical research to identify meaningful targets for obesity management.

Food intake regulation

Dr. Acosta's laboratory seeks to understand the regulation of satiation and satiety through the complex interaction among the gut, liver and brain in human obesity. His research team utilizes a combination of genetics, physiology, pharmacology, proteomics, metabolomics, and gastrointestinal and brain imaging to understand food intake regulation and to modulate these variables to treat obesity.

The Precision Medicine for Obesity research team has developed advanced cell sorting to tackle novel investigations of human enteroendocrine cells, a population of hormone-secreting cells found in the wall of the gut that regulate glucose levels, food intake and appetite. Studies using this innovative technology help researchers understand the pathophysiological role enteroendocrine cells play in the development and maintenance of human obesity.

Clinical trials

The Precision Medicine for Obesity Lab at Mayo Clinic has ongoing clinical trials that are actively recruiting patient volunteers. These trials support our research goals that aim to make cutting-edge discoveries about human obesity. Learn more about our clinical trials.