Dr. Cao has worked in academic, clinical and industry settings, and conducted both basic and translational research with multiple animal species and human subjects.
Dr. Cao received a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science from Nanjing Agricultural University, China; a Master degree in Nutrition from McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and a Doctoral degree in Nutrition from the University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.
He worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in mineral nutrition at the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida and as a research assistant professor in bone biology at the Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco. He worked as a Nutritionist at a nutraceutical company from 2005 to 2006, and then he joined the scientific staff at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center as a Research Nutritionist in October 2006.
He is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the International Chinese Hard Tissue Society, and the scientific research society Sigma Xi.
Dr. Cao’s research focuses the nutritional and physical activity regulation of bone metabolism in obesity with the goal towards prevention of osteoporosis, a major public health threat affecting 10 million Americans with another 34 million are at risk of developing osteoporosis.
Using cell and animal models, Dr. Cao has been studying the effects of dietary, physical, and physiological factors on bone cell function and bone metabolism in obesity.
With human subjects, Dr. Cao also investigates the effects of dietary protein and acid-base balance with or without energy deficit on calcium absorption, retention and markers of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women or physically active adults.
He utilizes a variety of techniques in his research including molecular biology, cell biology, micro-computed tomography, bone histomorphometry, multiplex immunoassay, stable or radio- calcium isotopes.
- Established that a high-fat diet increases markers of bone resorption and decreases trabecular bone mass despite positive effects of increased body weight on bone formation.
- Demonstrated that a diet high in meat protein and potential renal acid load may improve bone health in postmenopausal women by establishing that the diet increases both absorption and urinary excretion of calcium, as well as serum IGF-1, a potent bone stimulating hormone.
- Demonstrated that aging significantly increases osteoclastogenesis, promotes expansion of the osteoclast precursor pool and alters the relationship between osteoblasts and osteoclasts in cancellous bone.
- Identified that defects in IGF-1 receptor activation and IGF-1 signaling pathway are responsible for the reduced sensitivity to IGF-1 and decreased bone formation in aging.
- Developed a method for measuring metallothionein from dried blood spots and validated its use and a zinc transport protein as sensitive biomarkers of human zinc status.