Dr. Darlene Berryman is an expert on nutrition with a specific focus on how nutrients are processed, metabolized and stored in the body. Her current research is on obesity, with an emphasis on the impact fat tissue has on the body. Fat tissue has been ignored for years because it was commonly regarded as very simple, however, it is a lot more complicated than we thought, Berryman says.
“We have a lot to learn about that tissue if we are going to be able to effectively manage obesity,” she says, adding that while many people are aware of the obesity epidemic they are much less educated about the variety of factors impacting obesity.
“There are factors that have changed in our society that have influenced obesity, which are not the standard exercise and diet,” Berryman says. “For example, temperature influences fat tissue. Over the last 20 years, society has been moved into a comfortable living zone at a comfortable living temperature, which has an effect on fat tissue. There are other factors in the equation that we don’t understand at all, but if we understood them better they could potentially be used as a therapeutic to prevent or treat obesity.”
Berryman collaborates on research with Dr. John Kopchick , Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of molecular biology. Kopchick, an expert in human growth hormone, has developed mice models with varying levels of growth hormones and interesting health and obesity patterns. The team focuses on two of the models – a healthy, fat and long-lived group with no growth hormone action, and an opposite group of lean mice with very little fat tissue and are short-lived. Berryman hopes to find out how growth hormones influence fat tissue and also answer: What is it about fat tissue that causes health problems?
Dr. Berryman participates in Ohio University's Collaborative on Aging https://www.ohio.edu/aging/ . She also served as the executive director of The Diabetes Institute at Ohio University for six years.