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Biography & Research interests

I am interested in the genetic and neuroendocrine regulation of energy balance and metabolic disease. My interest in the field began during my undergraduate Zoology degree at the University of Aberdeen where I worked on pharmacological induction of torpor in mice. I developed my in vivo research skills during my MRes at the University of Glasgow, in particular working on a neurobehavioural project with an ovine model of delayed puberty. My PhD research was at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, where I worked on the regulation of seasonally appropriate metabolic phenotype in Siberian hamsters, a naturally occurring model of reversible growth. My first postdoc was at the University of L├╝beck in Germany, where I worked on the regulation of peripheral circadian rhythms in a mouse with conditional knockout of a core clock gene in the adrenal cortex. I am the elected deputy early career representative on the board of trustees for the British Society for Neuroendocrinology, and will become the senior ECR representative in December 2019.

Current Projects

  1. Non-coding genetic regulation of fat distribution and subsequent metabolic outcomes: I work on a human genome-wide association study (GWAS)-identified locus in the t-box transcription factor TBX15, associated with altered body fat distribution, an important risk factor for metabolic disease. This project involves modelling a putative enhancer region in the mouse, and development of a lentiviral delivered CRISPR-CAS9 protocol to induce point mutations in a human pre-adipocyte cell line.
  2. The role of the circadian transcription factor ZFHX3 in metabolic phenotype: A protein-altering variant in this gene has recently been associated with reduced body mass index (BMI) in a human GWAS. Mice harbouring a miss-sense mutation in Zfhx3 are smaller (weight, body length) and have reduced fat mass and bone mineral density. Previous work indicates altered hypothalamic expression of genes known to be involved in appetite, growth and energy expenditure in these mice. I have recently been awarded a small project grant to further elucidate the role of this mutation to drive metabolic phenotype through altered hypothalamic gene expression.

Selected Publications

Dumbell, R. and Cox, R. (2018) Genetically Altered Mice as an Approach for the Investigation of Obesity and Metabolic Disease. In Ludwig, M. and Levkowitz, G. INF Masterclass in Neuroendocrinology Series: Model animals in neuroendocrinology: From worm to mouse to man. Chichester, Wiley Blackwell.

Moir, L., E. G. Bochukova, R. Dumbell, G. Banks, R. S. Bains, P. M. Nolan, C. Scudamore, M. Simon, K. A. Watson, J. Keogh, E. Henning, A. Hendricks, S. O'Rahilly, I. Barroso, A. E. Sullivan, D. C. Bersten, M. L. Whitelaw, S. Kirsch, E. Bentley, I. S. Farooqi and R. D. Cox (2017). Disruption of the homeodomain transcription factor orthopedia homeobox (Otp) is associated with obesity and anxiety. Mol Metab, 6(11).

Dumbell, R., I. Petri, F. Scherbarth, V. Diedrich, H. A. Schmid, S. Steinlechner and P. Barrett (2017). Somatostatin agonist pasireotide inhibits exercise-stimulated growth in the male Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). J Neuroendocrinol. 29(1).

Dumbell, R., A. Leliavski, O. Matveeva, C. Blaum, A. H. Tsang and H. Oster (2016). Dissociation of molecular and endocrine circadian rhythms in male mice lacking Bmal1 in the adrenal cortex. Endocrinology 157(11): 4222-4233

Scherbarth, F., Diedrich, V., Dumbell, R., Schmid, H., Barrett, P., and Steinlechner, S. (2015) Somatostatin receptor activation is involved in the control of daily torpor in a seasonal mammal. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 309 (6), R668-74

Dumbell, R.A., Scherbarth, F., Diedrich, V., Schmid, H.A., Steinlechner, S., and Barrett, P. (2015). Somatostatin agonist pasireotide promotes a physiological state resembling short-day acclimation in the photoperiodic male Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). J Neuroendocrinol. 27 (2), 588-599

Petri, I., Dumbell, R., Scherbarth, F., Steinlechner, S., and Barrett, P. (2014). Effect of exercise on photoperiod-regulated hypothalamic gene expression and peripheral hormones in the seasonal Dwarf Hamster Phodopus sungorus. PloS one 9, e90253.

Robinson, J.E., Evans, N.P., Dumbell, R., Solbakk, A.K., Ropstad, E., and Haraldsen, I.R. (2014). Effects of inhibition of gonadotropin releasing hormone secretion on the response to novel objects in young male and female sheep. Psychoneuroendocrinology 40, 130-139