About the Lab

The Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory is a newly established research group hosted within the Biomedical Research Institute of Murcia (IMIB-Arrixaca) (https://www.imib.es). Our lab is currently working on several research projects aimed at understanding the physiopathology of obesity and related metabolic diseases, with special interest in the study of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Why NAFLD?

NAFLD is currently the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide with a currently estimated global prevalence of 25%, and it is expected that in the coming years it will overtake alcohol as the main indication for liver transplantation in the general population. NAFLD is directly related to other extrahepatic comorbidities such as obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia and chronic kidney disease, many researchers considering it as the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome.

NAFLD represents a spectrum of liver conditions ranging from simple steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), potentially evolving to fibrosis, cirrhosis and finally to hepatocellular carcinoma. Compared to simple steatosis, NASH is a more aggressive form of NAFLD with an intermediate risk of progressing to cirrhosis. About one third of patients with NASH will progress to stage 3 or 4 fibrosis (cirrhosis) over 5 to 10 years, having these patients, compared to the general population, a higher likelihood of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

The pathogenesis of NAFLD has been extensively studied in the last decade. However, the mechanisms underlying its progression to NASH have not been fully deciphered. Emerging evidence has proposed that the physiopathology of NAFLD is highly influenced by several dietary and environmental factors. These factors could participate in the development and progression of the disease by inducing changes in gut microbiota and/or epigenetic modifications, among other mechanisms.

In the lab we strive to understand the complex interplay of gut-liver in NAFLD pathogenesis, as well as to understand the possible role of epigenetics in NAFLD development and progression. In parallel, we are also studying the therapeutic potential of microbiota-targeted dietary interventions in patients with NAFLD and other obesity-related metabolic disorders.

Patient A: Normal liver | Patient B: NASH
(Pathology Unit of the Virgen de la Arrixaca University Hospital, Murcia)

Postdoctoral researchers interested in working in our lab are invited to apply to public and private calls. If you are interested, please send a full CV and a letter explaining your research experience and your research proposal to Dr. Bruno Ramos-Molina (bruno.ramos@imib.es).