Steward of the Future: Chad Stahl

Focusing on the impact of certain stem cells on lifetime fat, muscle and bone growth in pigs, Dr. Chad Stahl’s research has implications for human nutrition and related conditions such as osteoporosis and obesity. In this short YouTube video, the animal scientist discusses his work.

What Dr. Stahl has to say:
“My research focuses on examining how early life nutrition can impact the activity of tissue-specific stem cells that are responsible for lifetime fat, muscle and bone growth. We care about this because if we can alter the activity of those stem cells we can improve the sustainability of swine production, but also, because the physiology of pigs is so similar to that of humans, this work also has direct correlation to diseases of importance for human health such as osteoporosis and obesity.

“We work both with mesenchymal stem cells and with satellite cells, which are the muscle-specific stem cells. And the behavior of these cells change as animals and people age, and these changes alter their ability to turn into the cells that they are fated to become.

“I’m hoping that we can identify the true nutrient requirements of neonates so that if we really know how to provide nutrition to infants to maximize the outcomes that we want to see with our tissue-specific stem cells.

“So my hope for swine production is that we are able to improve overall feed efficiency of these animals, hopefully by 25 or 30 percent. And for humans I would love to be able to have modifications to infant formulas that can help reduce the incidence of obesity, insulin resistance, as well as osteoporosis later in life.

“The concept of how something that happens early in life can have a lifetime impact for both humans and other animals was something I found very exciting. And it’s interesting because we are at an intersection of science where the same work that we are doing can feed the world and at the same time improve human health additionally.

“To me, it’s just an exciting field, and it provides a lot of opportunity for us to really make a significant contribution both to animal agriculture and to human health.”

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