Jeffrey Browning, M.D.
The focus of my research is the comprehensive study of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in humans. The overarching goal is to understand the metabolic derangements that lead to this disease through the application of advanced imaging and metabolic techniques. Translating these basic science techniques to the clinical realm allows for a more complete understanding of the pathophysiology of NAFLD and extension of this understanding through complimentary studies utilizing traditional clinical research tools (epidemiology, retrospective and prospective studies, and clinical trials). In addition to the knowledge gained, this approach allows for the development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic modalities in a logical, disease- and patient-oriented manner.
My initial interest in metabolism began during medical school when I participated in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies using a variety of stable isotope tracers to investigate glycolysis in rats. As a result of my initial work, I have returned to the group at the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC), becoming proficient in the application of high-field NMR spectroscopy and stable isotopes to track metabolic pathways in humans. The primary goal of my research is to create an integrated approach to the study of hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism that allows for multiple simultaneous metabolic flux measurements to be made. We have already applied these techniques in rodents as well as humans (with and without NAFLD) under a variety of conditions.
It is my view that disease-oriented research should be comprehensive in nature, exploiting available basic science modalities to enhance our understanding of the pathophysiology of a disease while simultaneously translating this new-found knowledge into the clinical realm. This allows for a focused and logical approach to the study of a disease, an approach that has a high likelihood of impacting clinical practice and improving patient care. As a clinician-scientist who spends 20% of his time in the clinical setting directing the care of patients with NAFLD, my ability to pursue relevant disease-oriented questions through both clinical and translational methodologies allows for such a comprehensive approach. This, combined with the stable isotope techniques acquired and the resources available at UTSW, will allow me to complete the research proposed, positively impacting an important disease as I do so.