KATE (CLAYCOMBE) LARSON, Ph.D.
Kate J. Larson, Ph.D. received her doctoral degree at the University of Tennessee in Nutritional sciences where she studied transcriptional regulation of adipose gene expression and genetics of obesity. She completed postdoctoral training in nutritional immunology at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and served as Nutritional Science faculty at Michigan State University before joining the USDA ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC) in August 2010. Combining her training in immunology and obesity research, Dr. Larson has made contributions to nutrition and obesity research in two key areas: (1) the role of adipose tissue inflammation in obesity; and (2) epigenetic alterations due to parental diet and exercise that affect the risk of offspring obesity. For her role in the inflammation in obesity area of research, Dr. Larson was first to demonstrate that stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells within adipose tissue are the major source of pro-inflammatory cytokines. At USDA ARS GFHNRC, Dr. Larson pioneered the concept that maternal diets induce growth of subcutaneous adipose tissue depots to cause offspring obesity by epigenetically imprinting a growth factor gene (IGF-2). This work provided the first evidence that adipose tissue growth rate is modulated by maternal diets and provided new insight into how maternal diets contribute to offspring obesity and insulin resistance. In additional independent work that followed, she demonstrated that parental diets differentially affect epigenetic marker expression in several key metabolic tissues. Dr. Larson has served on committees of the American Society for Nutrition, the Obesity Society, editorial boards of Journal of Nutrition, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Physiological Genomics, Frontiers in Immunology, and Scientific Reports. Dr. Larson has received extramural collaborative grants, served on NIH study sections, USDA NIFA review panels, and American Heart Association review committees. Her work has been published in highly rated journals.
Dr. Larson's research interests focus on how maternal and neonatal environments affect metabolic tissue and cell functions in animal and human models of obesity. She studies the roles of foods and physical activity in maintaining healthy body weight and preventing co-morbidities of obesity. She conducts studies to determine to identify determinants and consequences of nutritional and exercise status on metabolic programming, and to develop strategies to prevent obesity and obesity-related diseases.
Dr. Larson’s contributions have been recognized at the international level by serving as the chair of the Research Interest Section of American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the Basic Science Section of the Obesity Society (TOS), and many symposia during annual meetings of ASN, American Physiology Society (APS), and TOS. She has been on editorial boards of Journal of Nutrition, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Physiological Genomics, and Frontiers in Nutrition/Immunology, and Scientific Reports. Dr. Larson has been invited to numerous national and international meetings to speak about her research and received several awards for her contributions. Dr. Larson has secured several major extramural collaborative grants, served on NIH study sections, USDA NIFA review panels, and American Heart Association review committees.