The transition to lactation period in dairy cattle represents the most critical time period for health and productivity. Dr. White’s research program focuses on hepatic carbon flux during the transition to lactation, specifically as it relates to gluconeogeneis and the TCA cycle, and the onset of metabolic disorders. Fundamental research using hepatocyte cell culture models on glucose and energy metabolism leads to better understanding of the etiology, onset, progression, and genetic predisposition to metabolic disorders, such as ketosis and fatty liver, in cattle and humans.
In conjunction with metabolic health, the type of feed and how much or little a cow eats influences her overall health status. In order to continue to improve the efficiency and environmental sustainability of milk production, there has been an increased effort in selecting for feed efficient animals. However, there is large variation in feed efficiency between cows that has yet to be explained. One method to investigate the variation is by calculating residual feed intake (RFI), which reflects the difference between expected and actual intake when accounting for the animal’s metabolic body weight, milk energy production, and change in body energy. In our lab, we are investigating potential physiological sources of this variation, including post absorptive metabolism of energy metabolites and the efficiency of use of these metabolites by the mammary gland.
Research in the White Lab spans from basic to applied science. Our continual goal is to conduct science, at both levels, that improves animal health and productivity. With this goal in mind, we are constantly striving to use basic science to better understand nutritional biochemistry and physiology and thus, improve animal health and productivity. From cells to cows, impact is key!