Campus News

UK College of Communication and Information Hosts Technology Usability Lab

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 09:00

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 11, 2016) — An innovative new program at the University of Kentucky explores human-computer interaction. Senior Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs Derek Lane and College Media Officer Nathan Stevens, along with Dean Dan O’Hair, of the UK College of Communication and Information, have pioneered a new multidisciplinary venture they are calling the CI Collective.


The CI Collective is a program hosted by the College of Communication and Information that includes a technology usability lab where students and faculty can work together to test emerging technologies. The primary purpose of the CI Collective is to support interdisciplinary research on human-computer interaction and related areas in understanding how people use communication technology and learn from information systems.


Technology developers might have one use in mind, but consumers of all ages may find that a technological device may be used to fill a separate and distinct need. Research conducted in the CI Collective will help determine how users interact with technology and learn from information systems.


“A usability lab is where people bring in technology and folks to use the technology, and then they study and survey what they like about it, what they hate about it, what they think should be improved about it,” Stevens said.


Another facet of the program involves bringing in professional IT people, who actually study how and why people might adopt these technologies.


Together these two groups of people generate a report to review the product and send it to the technology companies.


“Basically it’s a partnership where we learn together about how any communication technology might be adopted and attempt to understand potential gains and pain points,” Lane said. “Companies make their technology available, then we conduct usability research with it, analyze the data, write the reports and send our results back to them. Our research is unbiased and tends to be more trustworthy than proprietary research.”


These reviews, based on empirical research, are impartial and objective — a valuable way for technology companies to understand how consumers might potentially use their products.


The CI Collective provides benefits to the UK campus community in multiple ways.  In particular, students can gain valuable experience as both interns and research participants.


“First, it gives the students experience of how a usability lab works,” Stevens said. “That’s vital because people can make a living managing a usability lab.”


It also gives students opportunities to work on personal research or product development. 


“If students have an idea and they want to engage in design thinking and rapid prototyping, they should be able to do that in our lab,” Lane said.


In addition, faculty will have access to technology that can help extend current research programs.


“It will help campus because one of our goals is to get faculty members in to help with their research or to find new ways to build their research agenda,” Stevens said.


“Faculty from across campus can access the resources and facilities and decide how, if at all, existing technology might extend their research programs,” Lane said.


Research in the CI Collective will also be used to help other communities. The lab is currently working with technologies that have been shared with UK researchers from places as far away as Paris, France.


Some technologies that are being studied include various devices that help monitor, track and report health diagnoses. These products can be especially helpful in the Appalachian region where patients are not always located near health care facilities. Eventually Lane and Stevens hope this research can be applied to developing countries as well.


“Being able to help communities that may not be able to help themselves is a goal of our lab,” Stevens said.


In addition to working with technologies to improve health care, the lab also explores interactive home automation systems, virtual reality technology, 3D printing, robotic telepresence and virtual video gaming.


“We are excited about the possibilities, and we think it’s a really cool place for students to think about the research we conduct in the college and across campus in very unique ways,” Lane said.


O’Hair and Lane began discussing this project a few years ago, and they are excited that it’s finally coming to fruition.


“I am so pleased that our initial idea about a usability lab is becoming a reality," said Dean O'Hair. "Information communication technologies are often ignored or slow-tracked because they do not have an empirical track record of success. That is where the CI Collective plays a key role."


While the project has been in development since October, Lane and Stevens hope to have it past the preliminary stage and fully developed before the end of the fall 2016 semester.


If anyone is interested in collaborative projects or if students are interested in working in the lab as an intern, participating in research studies as a product tester or learning more information about how to get involved, they should contact Nathan Stevens at



UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue



MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,

Plant Science Building Evacuated for Nearly Five Hours Monday

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 19:13

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 9, 2016) — The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment's Plant Science Building was evacuated around 2 p.m. Monday, and the Lexington Fire Department was notified as a precaution after an unknown odor was detected in a second floor plant pathology lab. Lexington Fire Departments's Hazardous Materials Unit was called to the scene, evaluated the building, and determined there was nothing harmful present.


UK's Environmental Management officials followed up with monitoring and cleared the building for re-entry at 6:40 p.m. The cause of the odor, though not harmful, is under investigation.



MEDIA CONTACT:  Kathy Johnson, 859-559-5396

Celebrated Kentucky Historian Receives Medallion for Intellectual Achievement

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 15:24

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 10, 2016) — Tonight University of Kentucky Libraries Spring Gala will recognize the 2016 recipient of the UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement, James C. Klotter. The Lexington native, UK alumnus and Georgetown College scholar is the state historian of Kentucky.  


"Through his writing, his teaching and hundreds of talks on Kentucky history across the Commonwealth over the past four decades, Dr. James C. Klotter epitomizes what the UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement honors; high intellectual achievement by a Kentuckian who has made a contribution of lasting value," UK Libraries Dean Terry Birdwhistell said.


The UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement is one of UK's most prestigious awards. It was created in 1990 to recognize high intellectual achievement by a Kentuckian who has made a contribution of lasting value to the Commonwealth. The award also promotes education and creative thought. The recipient is determined by the UK Libraries National Advisory Board after receiving nominations from the public. Past recipients of the honor include: John Anthony, Wendell Berry, James Still, Bobbie Ann Mason, Thomas D. Clark, Laman A. Gray Jr., Guy Davenport, George C. Herring, Adalin Wichman, John Egerton, Karl Raitz and George Wright.


James C. Klotter received his doctoral degree in history from UK in 1975. He is the prize-winning author, co-author or editor of almost 20 books including “The Breckinridges of Kentucky,”Faces of Kentucky” and the second edition of  “Our Kentucky: A Study of the Bluegrass State.” He is also the author of the Kentucky history textbooks used at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels statewide.


The state historian of Kentucky since 1980, Klotter worked at the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) from 1973 to 1998, with his tenure culminating in eight years of service as the KHS executive director. Since 1998, he has been a professor of history at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. In both positions he has served in the public history field, giving almost a thousand public presentations around the Commonwealth, working with teachers in workshops and other forums, and serving as a resource person for various media outlets. He has also been chair or president of the Kentucky Association of Teachers of History, the Kentucky Council on Archives, the UK Library Associates, the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning and the Kentucky Civil War Roundtable.


Klotter is general editor, along with UK Libraries Dean Terry Birdwhistell and Douglas Boyd of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, of the book series “Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series” published by the University Press of Kentucky (UPK). He also serves as the general editor of the “Topics in Kentucky History” series from UPK. Together those 22 books span Kentucky history from early statehood to the present.


The recipient of several local, regional and national honors, Klotter has received the Governor’s Outstanding Kentuckian Award and the Clark Award for Literary Excellence. He also has delivered the McCandless Lecture at Oxford University.


In addition to celebrating Klotter's life and work, the UK Spring Gala, presented by the UK Libraries National Advisory Board, will also include the recognition of this year's recipients of the 2016 Paul A. Willis Outstanding Faculty Award and the 2016 Dean's Awards for Outstanding Performance. The Willis Award will be presented to Frank Davis, a clinical liaison librarian in the Medical Center Library. The Dean's Awards for Outstanding Performance will be presented to Josh Monroe, a monograph library specialist at William T. Young Library; Beth Reeder, library technician senior in the Agricultural Information Center; and Kopana Terry, oral history archivist in the Nunn Center in UK's Special Collections Research Center.



UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue



MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

Helping a Co-Worker in a Time of Need Deepens UK IBU Employees Desire to Give Back to the Community

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 14:23

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 12, 2016) -  Participating in community service activities has always been a priority for a group of University of Kentucky employees in the Integrated Business Unit (IBU) for the UK College of Medicine.  However, when one of their own faced a serious illness and was unable to return to work, their desire to help others took on a more personal meaning. 


The IBU employees realized their colleague faced a huge financial burden and came up with the idea of collecting donations from employees in exchange for the privilege of wearing jeans to work.  A series of 'jeans weeks' over the months raised $2,000 and helped bridge the financial gap for their friend and co-worker. Eventually a 'GoFundMe' page was created. Out of their desire to help, a discussion evolved about how they could help others in their community.


“Our staff members have really been the driving force behind this effort and I’m so proud of the sense of community it has created within our team.  Projects like this that are born at the employee level and grow into something that benefits not only our department, but also the community we live in, are very inspiring.  It’s a fun way to boost morale and give back at the same time," said Amy Longeway, UK Healthcare IBU Business Operations Manager  


During a staff meeting, team members began to suggest charities to support on a monthly basis. A list of charities was created that will cover the remainder of 2016 and into 2017.


The project kicked off this past April with the Lexington Humane Society (LHS), Central Kentucky's largest pet adoption agency, as the month's designated charity.


The IBU employees made $5 donations or gave five cans of cat food during the week of April 18-22 for the privilege of wearing jeans that week. The money was used to purchase additional cat food and by the end of the week, 520 cans were donated, enough for the LHS to feed their feline friends for 13 days.


The LHS relies on the donations of individuals and organizations to help keep up their life-saving work for pets. Every year, their needs increase as they work to save more animals and expand community based programs.


"Wet food is a critical part of our enrichment program for our cats, and is also important for our feline friends who may be unable to eat regular dry food for medical reasons. We go through 40 cans of cat food a day so any support we receive is appreciated by not only staff but of feline friends as well!" said Ashley Hammond, LHS's senior development manager.


This month, the employees chose the Hope Center for their charity. The Hope Center in Lexington provides daily services to around 800 of Lexington's homeless and most at risk citizens per night. The designated jeans week is set for May 16 - 20, when employees will either contribute $5 or the equivalent in new personal hygiene items.


In the coming months, employees plan to support The Nest, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, The Ronald McDonald House, Wives Behind the Badge, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bluegrass, the Big Blue Food Drive, Lexington Rescue Mission, The Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Autism Society of the Bluegrass, UK Healthcare Circle of Love and The Chrysalis House.


The IBU team also enjoy supporting UK sponsored activities like 'Go Red for Heart Health' and "Go Blue for Child Abuse Awareness' months.



Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or






UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, visit #uky4ky #seeblue


Experience the Fantastical at UK Art Museum

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 13:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 11, 2016) — For those looking for art with a sense of fantasy or an other-worldly feel, three new exhibitions at the University of Kentucky Art Museum featuring national and popular regional artists may scratch that itch. "Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm," "Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds" and "Ralph Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama" are on display now through July 31. All the exhibitions are free and open to the public.


"All three shows have a combination of realistic representation combined with elements of fantasy, sometimes combining beauty with the grotesque," said UK Art Museum Director Stuart Horodner. "Natalie Frank is a celebrated contemporary artist from New York and Lawrence Tarpey is a beloved local artist, Duane Michals and Ralph Eugene Meatyard are represented in our museum’s collection. We are excited to show this range of work, stressing the ways that artists confront the human body and stories of desire, violence, mystery, transformation and dream. All the artists use specific media in masterful ways — they are skillful and visionary in very precise ways, all connecting with the art of the past as well as classic literature."


A 'Grimm' Approach


Natalie Frank talks about her "Brothers Grimm" exhibition on display at UK Art Museum. Natalie_Frank_Interview_Full from UK Art Museum on Vimeo.


Between 2011 and 2014, artist Natalie Frank created 75 drawings based on 36 of the original fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859) which were initially intended for adult audiences who could intuit the moral lessons embedded in the narratives.


Frank regularly manipulates the human form in her provocative and vivid paintings, and so the Grimms’ stories were a natural continuation. Like figurative forebears, including Max Beckmann, James Ensor, Käthe Kollwitz, Odilon Redon and Paula Rego, she affirms the connection between painting and flesh, using the intimacy of drawing to conjure complex images that combine realism and dream, beauty and grotesquery.


She does not simply illustrate "Cinderella," "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel" and "Snow White," or the lesser known adventures of "The Stubborn Child" and "The Maiden Without Hands," but she uses them as departure points for a contemporary take on desire, identity, taboo and transformation. Her deft use of gouache and chalk pastel helps to situate the protagonists between the flatness of the page and the dimensionality of conjured worlds. Women, men and various animals interact with each other in densely patterned spaces and are often seen in revelatory close-ups. Eyes abound — haunted, watery and watchful.


These colorful compositions serve as touchstones and mirrors, allowing the artist to use the Grimm brothers’ accounts of vengeful protagonists, transgressive caretakers and rampant abuse to address our own age of public and private dramas. Presented in the context of a university, the works speak to the disciplines of art, literature and theater, as well as addressing young adults with warning, instruction and humor.


"Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm" was curated by Claire Gilman, senior curator at the Drawing Center in New York and presented there from April 10-June 28, 2015. It was later shown at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in Austin from July 11-Nov. 15, 2015.


A Grounds for Dreaming

To call Lexington-based artist Lawrence Tarpey a painter is a bit misleading because he combines a range of techniques to call forth the human and animal imagery that populates his works on paper, panel and canvas. Tarpey often puts down a ground of ink or paint and then disturbs it with sponges and scrapers during the drying process. This provides him with indications of figures and landscape formations that he can further articulate in distinct acts of drawing and erasing, a process he calls “etching.”


This is not surprising since qualities associated with traditional printmaking inform much of Tarpey’s work. Color is kept to a minimum, with an overall monochrome palette establishing his pictorial spaces. Occasionally, a rich hue will help focus the viewer on a detail or establish a compositional rhythm.


There is a dreamlike quality to Tarpey’s intimate worlds that harkens back to surrealist practitioners like Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and Joan Miró. He is playful when he depicts heads and other disparate body parts experiencing humorous encounters or confronting minor quandaries. There are also potential nightmares, such as when his orchestration of countless bodies is overwhelming and an air of apocalypse hovers.


Tarpey works slowly, and his studio is filled with numerous works in progress. He waits and watches for the next move to become clear, a tonal shift here or a biomorphic shape redefined there. Recurring motifs and procedural obsessions make his work immediately recognizable, and he revels in conjuring likable characters and elusive personages.


“I’m not interested in storytelling,” Tarpey said recently. Distinct moods define his horror vacui — anxious, whimsical and elegiac. "Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds" demands viewers' time and concentrated looking.


Drama Caught on Camera


"Ralph Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama," an installation of photographs from the UK Art Museum’s permanent collection, was chosen to accompany the Natalie Frank and Lawrence Tarpey exhibitions. Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Duane Michals are each known for creating distinctive narratives using staged photography, often pushing their image-making toward other genres, including film, theater and literature.


A Lexington optician, Meatyard was an avid reader whose fascination with Zen philosophy informed his photographic practice. Rejecting the idea of photography as a mirror of nature, he experimented with multiple exposures and blurred images and employed a wide variety of props, including masks. He often worked in abandoned farmhouses, posing family and friends in mysterious and sometimes troubling tableaux that explore the ephemeral nature of life.


Michals, a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is known for his use of sequential images, often with handwritten texts that add another layer of interpretive data to the visual experience. He claims William Blake, Lewis Carroll and René Magritte as influences on his work, which is not surprising given the altered reality and confessional aspects of his production.


The UK Art Museum will also present several educational programs developed in conjunction with these exhibitions in the next couple months, including the following free public events:

Exhibition Tour
6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, June 3

Director Stuart Horodner discusses the connections between the three current exhibitions, focusing on representations of reality and fantasy.


Family Day Workshop

Noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11
Join Lexington artist and educator Georgia Henkel, known for her confrontational art depicting humans and animals, for a spirited workshop that focuses on aspects of “the eye,” prompted by the "Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm" exhibition.
Adults and children of all ages are welcome; materials will be provided.


Family Day Workshop

Noon-1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9
Art Museum Director Stuart Horodner and special guest artists lead a monoprint workshop inspired by the Lawrence Tarpey exhibition. Adults and children of all ages are welcome; materials will be provided.


Curator Tour

6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15

Art Museum Curator Janie Welker discusses the current exhibitions and related works in the permanent collection galleries.


Reading Fairy Tales
6:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, July 29
Join us for a special reading of select fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. Guests from the Lexington arts and culture scene lend their voices, attitudes and interpretive skills for this event in conjunction with the Natalie Frank exhibition.


The mission of the UK Art Museum, part of the UK College of Fine Arts, is to promote the understanding and appreciation of art to enhance the quality of life for people of Kentucky through collecting, exhibiting, preserving and interpreting outstanding works of visual art from all cultures. Home to a collection of more than 4,800 objects including American and European paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and sculpture, the Art Museum at UK presents both special exhibitions and shows of work from its permanent collection. 


The UK Art Museum, located in the Singletary Center for the Arts at Rose Street and Euclid Avenue, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. For more information on membership, contact Lyndi VanDeursen at 859-257-8164 or



UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue



MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

"see blue." #selfie: Tiffany Molina

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:58


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 26, 2016) — Want to get to know the people behind some of the biggest student leadership positions on campus? We did, too! That's why we've introduced "see blue." #selfie - a series on UKNow that lets student leaders from across campus tell us a little bit more about themselves and their organizations. Up this week, the 2015-16 president of the International Student Council, Tiffany Molina!


Molina is going to be a senior majoring in business management and equine science. She is from Honduras and was drawn to the University of Kentucky after her mother visited Lexington in 2010 for the FEI World Equestrian Games. Molina envisions the International Student Council as a leader in introducing UK to different cultures of the world. Learn all about  Molina in her "see blue." #selfie!    


UKNow: What is your major and what year are you?

Tiffany Molina: I am going to be a senior and I'm double majoring in business management and equine science.


UK: Where are you from?

TM: I am from Honduras.


UK: Tell me about your position on the International Student Council (ISC).

TM: For this year, I was president of ISC. ISC is basically the umbrella organization for international student organizations. What we do is join students of different cultures. A big goal is to have international students mingle with local students. I make sure that for the next year, when I'm no longer on the board, we secure funds to help other organizations host events. We host two events during the year to show the diversity of the university.  


UK: What is your vision for ISC?

TM: I want ISC to grow and become something that helps not only the UK community, but Lexington. We worked with the Lexington Mayor's Youth Council this year. It's great that Kentucky's school system is taking a step to introducing Kentucky to different cultures of the world!  


UK: What makes you so passionate about this organization? 

TM: I think I love it because of the different cultures. I love meeting new people and gaining perspectives about how different nationalities see the world. Part of the college experience is meeting new people and expanding your network.


UK: What else are you involved in?

TM: This year I was part of Women Business Leaders in Gatton, the UK American Marketing Association….I'm in a lot of things. It's been crazy! I'm working with the International Student Leadership team and I also am a sitter for Wildcat Service Dogs.


UK: Has there been a teacher or employee that has made a positive impact on your time here at UK?

TM: Yeah! I feel like I've met awesome people willing to help me go the extra mile. I believe people in the College of Ag are super nice and are almost like friendly neighbors! I would say someone else that has helped me this year is my advisor in Gatton, and I so appreciate that!


UK: How often do you go home to Honduras?

TM: I go back quite a lot compared to other international students. I got to go back during Spring Break this year.


UK: What brought you to UK from Honduras?

TM: So, I was applying to different colleges and I didn't want to stay in Honduras. My mom came here for the World Equestrian games and encouraged me to apply at UK. I had never been to Kentucky before so I didn't know what to expect. I went ahead and applied. That's how I ended up coming here!  


UK: What would you say is a major difference between the United States and Honduras?

TM:  Personal space. Latin America in general - we love close contact with anyone. It was very hard meeting someone and getting used to handshaking. That's the biggest difference.


UK: What would you sing at a karaoke night?

TM: Probably that one Ed Sheeran song. The love song. "Thinking Out Loud!"


UK: If you had a warning label, what would it say?

TM: Loud. I feel like you know when I'm somewhere because I'm always laughing and it's super loud. I need to practice my inside voice!


UK: Have you ever had a secret admirer?

TM: I used to have one in the sixth grade! I remember he got me a rose….it was a fake rose. Through high school everyone made fun of him for it.


UK: What's your favorite thing about Lexington?

CF: I think my favorite is how you have city life and then farm life. The beautiful landscapes - that's my favorite thing.


UK: Growing up, what did you want to be?

TM: A doctor.


UK: What is your dream job now?

TM: Right now, my ideal job would be working in equine business. I have an internship with Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in marketing right now to give me a perspective. They are an equine hospital.


UK: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

TM: I love ice cream. It's my favorite thing! I would say my favorite flavor is caramel.


UK: If you were stranded on a desert with one person, who would it be?

TM: My boyfriend. He would be the only one able to deal with my madness!


UK: What is your favorite UK sporting event to attend?

TM: Basketball. Freshman year, being in the Eruption Zone was my main goal. By my sophomore year I wanted actual seats.


UK: If you could make anything a national holiday, what would it be?

TM: I think it would be a day honoring the beaches of the world. That's one thing I miss about being home.


UK: Who would you say knows you the best?

TM: I would say my mom because even when we are on the phone and I've had a bad day she knows just by the tone of my voice.


UK: If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?

TM: I would want to go to Dubai. I think that would be really cool!


UK: Have you ever studied abroad?

TM: I went to Australia last year with the equine program. It was awesome to see the differences. They are big into thoroughbreds. My dream was to hold a koala and I did it! It was really cute!


UK: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

TM: I would want to live somewhere in the south of the United States. Kentucky is still the south, but I want a place less cold.


UK: You are happiest when…

TM: I have peace of mind I am happiest! A lot of times after an exam, even if I didn't do well, I am just happy it is over.


UK: Do you have any advice for an incoming freshman?

TM: I would say to take risks and try new things. Don't get stressed with school stuff.



"see blue." #selfies will appear every other Tuesday on UKNow. Know a student leader we should feature? Contact Rebecca Stratton at to nominate someone.



UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue




MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton,, (859) 323-2395 

UK Study Shows New Potential Marker for Obesity

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:39

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 11, 2016) ­– A new study led by University of Kentucky researchers and published in Nature shows a potential new biological marker for the development of obesity and a possible target for obesity prevention and treatment.

Neurotensin (NT), a peptide produced mainly in the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system, is released with fat ingestion and facilitates fatty acid absorption in the intestine. Previous research has shown that NT can also stimulate the growth of various cancers and increased fasting levels of pro-NT (an NT precursor hormone) are associated with development of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.


The new Nature study examined data from the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study, a population-based, prospective epidemiologic cohort of 28,449 men and women who were followed for an average of 16.5±1.5 years. The analysis showed that obese and insulin-resistant subjects have significantly elevated levels of fasting pro-NT, and the risk of developing obesity was doubled in non-obese subjects who had fasting pro-NT at the highest concentrations compared to subjects with the lowest concentrations.


The study further used animal models to show that a deficiency in NT protects against obesity, insulin resistance and fatty liver disease associated with high fat consumption, thus identifying NT as a potential early marker of future obesity and a novel therapeutic target for this disease.


University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Director Dr. Mark Evers, a surgical oncologist and professor in the UK Department of Surgery, led the study in collaboration with other investigators from the University of Kentucky, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Lund in Malmö, Sweden.


"Our findings have redefined how we view the role of NT,” said Evers, whose laboratory has been studying this peptide for over two decades. “NT appears to be a metabolically ‘thrifty’ peptide which increases the absorption of ingested fats; however, with the abundance of fats in typical Western diets, NT can have a detrimental effect by contributing to increased obesity and related metabolic disorders.”


Additionally, because NT can contribute to the growth of certain cancers and is now linked with obesity, Evers speculates that increased NT may contribute to the higher incidence of certain cancers associated with obesity. Building on the findings from this study, future research at the University of Kentucky will examine this possible link.


Worldwide, more than 1.7 billion people are overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25, or obese (BMI higher than 30). Additionally, more than 2.5 million deaths are attributed to the consequences of obesity each year. 


Media Contact: Allison Perry,