Patrick Tso, Professor and Mary M. Emery Chair of Pathology and Director of the Cincinnati Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, is on a mission to push back against the growing rates of obesity in the country.
As part of his work, Tso leads one of only two NIH-funded Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Centers in the country. It’s been consistently funded for 17 years thanks to the tireless work of Tso and other researchers. The purpose of the center is to study genetically modified mice in great detail to avoid missing small intricacies that could be overlooked by more casual observers.
For example, a researcher reported that an otherwise healthy and normal mouse in the center was behaving oddly—anytime the mouse was in its cage, it would only walk the perimeter. Tso suggested they check the mouse to determine whether it could see. They discovered that even though the mouse’s eyes appeared normal, its optic nerve wasn’t working.
However, Tso’s work at the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center mostly focuses on diabetes and obesity. Currently, Tso is looking at how the mice manage glucose, similar to the glucose tests given to pregnant women.
In addition, Tso’s other research also focuses on better understanding diabetes and obesity. He and two other researchers, Yvonne Ulrich-Lai, PhD, and Min Liu, PhD, were recently awarded an NIH RO1 grant to examine the gastrointestinal lymphatic system to understand its role in diabetes, specifically the reduction of diabetes following bariatric surgery.
“We don’t really know a lot about the lymphatic system and how it functions, so this particular grant is trying to explore how important the lymphatic system is in glucose metabolism and its relationship to diabetes,” said Tso.
As part of his roles as a professor, researcher and director of the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, Tso has had many opportunities to work with young researchers throughout his time at UC College of Medicine. According to Tso, it’s one of his most important responsibilities.
“At the end of the day, our job is to support the next generation of scientists. To me that's a measure of success. It's not what you have achieved, but rather what you leave behind,” said Tso. “My biggest pride in my 20 years of work are the instances where I've felt I may have made a difference to the career of young investigators in this nation.”
There’s no doubt that many young researchers at UC College of Medicine have benefited and will continue to benefit from Tso’s guidance and mentorship. That means a better, healthier community and a growing number of budding researchers at the College of Medicine ready to tackle tough problems.