Meet Andrea Lovdel invited speaker at the European Young Endocrine Scientists symposium at ECE 2019

Meet Andrea Lovdel, who is an invited speaker during the European Young Endocrine Scientists (EYES) symposium at ECE 2019. She is a PhD student based in the Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh where her research focuses on bone adipose tissue and metabolism. Here she tells us about her upcoming presentation and what she is looking forward to at ECE 2019, 18 - 21 May in Lyon.

Tell us about your career so far in endocrinology

Prior to my PhD, I completed a joint honours degree in Biochemistry and Immunology at the University of Strathclyde, UK. My PhD with Dr Cawthorn’s laboratory group is focused on glucocorticoids, adipose tissue, bone and caloric restriction. I’m now in my final year and hope to continue working in the field of endocrinology and metabolism as a postdoctoral research fellow.

What are you presenting at ECE 2019?

I’m delighted to be invited to speak at ECE 2019, where I will be presenting my PhD research, entitled, “Investigating glucocorticoid excess as mediators of bone marrow adiposity expansion during caloric restriction”.

Bone marrow adipose tissue is a depot located in our long bones; and what makes it an exciting is the fact that it accumulates during caloric restriction in animals and anorexia nervosa in humans. Current research suggests that this is the only type of adipose depot to exhibit these behaviours, making it very unusual as you would expect a reduction under these conditions. The mechanism behind this behaviour is still unknown and this forms the basis of my research. I’m currently looking into glucocorticoids as potential mediators of this accumulation, since glucocorticoids are themselves up-regulated with caloric restriction.

What has been your most surprising finding?

The most surprising finding so far has been the sex differences in bone marrow adiposity accumulation that we observed during caloric restriction. This finding has given rise to more questions with an endocrine focus, which I am now researching.

What are you looking forward to at ECE 2019 and what would you recommend to others?

I am looking forward to hearing all about the latest research from other groups and to network with inspiring scientists from around the world. There are a number of talks that I am keen to attend, including Giles Yeo’s talk on “Genetics of appetite regulation.”

I would recommend, especially for first time attendees, is to really look through the programme before you get there, a lot of interesting talks run at the same time, so you should plan ahead to avoid missing something of particular interest. Also, it is equally important to do some sightseeing and enjoy the French culture.

What has been your proudest research experience so far?

My proudest research experience has been receiving a prize for my first oral communication at the Bone Marrow Adiposity Meeting 2018, in Lille. I’m also very proud of my undergraduate student that I supervised during her honours project. She graduated with a 1st class honours degree and shortly thereafter was accepted for a British Heart Foundation 4-year PhD Studentship.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in your research area right now?

The biggest challenge in the bone marrow adipose tissue field is understanding its function. Apart from caloric restriction, bone marrow adiposity also increases in response to various anti-diabetic drugs, which enhance insulin sensitivity. These observations raise the possibility that bone marrow adiposity may directly affect insulin sensitivity and metabolic health. Therefore, understanding the function of bone marrow adiposity could lead to new approaches of treating metabolic diseases.

What do you think will be the next major breakthrough in your field?

There are a lot of assumptions that bone marrow adipocytes are similar to white and/or brown adipocytes, although the depots act very differently during caloric restriction and other conditions. I am certain that in the near future we will have a much better idea about the characterisation of bone marrow adipocytes.

I also think that improved imaging techniques to quantify bone marrow adipocytes and surrounding cells will benefit the field of bone marrow adiposity.

You can hear Andrea Lovdel’s presentation, “Investigating glucocorticoid excess as mediators of bone marrow adiposity expansion during caloric restriction” on Monday 20 May, during the EYES symposium at 10:20. Find out more about the ECE 2019 scientific programme.