Our research program focuses on populations with special nutrient needs with an emphasis on carnitine. For the past 30 years, our laboratory has conducted both basic research and clinical research to understand the biosynthesis, transport and function of carnitine during different stages of the life cycle and during different pathological conditions. Graduate students have the opportunity to use liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry acylcarnitine profiling to better characterize the carnitinome under a variety of physiological conditions. Our Piglet Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that simulates a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is used to study carnitine in neonatal piglets.
Currently our research group attends the University of Florida Pediatric Epilepsy Clinic for patients receiving ketogenic therapy for seizures and provides both metabolic assessments of the patients and educational material for the families. We are addressing the mechanism of action of the ketogenic therapy for seizures both through clinical research and experimental animal research. Each week, our group also attends the University of Florida Pediatric Immunology Clinic for patients with HIV disease. We provide the clinic staff with metabolic assessments including body composition and provide the patients with nutrition education materials. Students have the opportunity to conduct transitional science research using a systems biology approach. We are addressing the role of carnitine in ketogenic therapy and in pediatric HIV metabolic dysfunction.