Joeva Barrow, Ph.D., R.D. is an Assistant Professor of Molecular Nutrition at Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in 2006 before completing her Masters and combined Dietetic internship program at the University of Florida in 2008 where she was certified as a Registered Dietitian.
While working at the frontlines in clinical dietetics providing medical nutrition therapy to patients with metabolic diseases, Dr. Barrow quickly discovered that despite the excellent standards of care from the medical community, our basic knowledge of metabolism and corresponding therapeutic capacity was quite limited. Dr. Barrow became fascinated with the concept that metabolic changes can dramatically alter genetic and epigenetic patterning and when dysregulated, leads to the development of disease. If we can improve our mechanistic understanding of nutrient absorption, transport, metabolism, bioenergetics, and gene regulation, it would provide a platform to identify therapeutic targets that could reduce the onset of, and provide treatment for obesity and associated disorders such as mitochondrial diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic syndromes.
Fueled by that passion, Dr. Barrow pursued and obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida (2013) and then moved to Boston to complete her postdoctoral training at the Harvard Medical School/ Dana-Farber Cancer institute in Cell Metabolism and Cancer Biology (2018).
The goal of the Barrow lab is to employ proteomic, genomic, and metabolomic techniques to investigate metabolic and bioenergetic pathways in order to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of metabolic disorders. Our research interest centralizes around mitochondrial biology with a dual integrated focus.
Primary Research Focus- Mitochondrial disease: This group of diseases represents one of the most commonly inherited human diseases and results in death if uncorrected. There is no cure or effective therapy so the need therefore to develop novel therapeutics is absolutely critical. Our goal is to:
- Investigate metabolic and bioenergetic pathways that become dysregulated in mitochondrial disease. The aim is to identify novel factors that can be exploited for therapeutic potential that would boost oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) capacity—the major failing hallmark in mitochondrial disease and associated metabolic disorders.
- As one of many examples, we have previously identified the protein BRD4 as a regulatory factor that controls mitochondrial bioenergetics (Molecular Cell, 2016). When BRD4 is inhibited by CRISPR technology in patient-derived cells with mutated mitochondria genomes (results in cell death), BRD4 ablation restores their bioenergetics capacity and promotes the complete survival of the patient cells. We will be detailing this mechanism in highly metabolic cells such as muscle.
Secondary Research Goal- Obesity and Metabolic Disease: The second focus of the Barrow lab relates to chronic disease and exploring mitochondrial biology in the context of obesity to unveil novel factors that can be targeted for therapy. The rate of obesity has continued to grow at alarming rates worldwide due to an increase in caloric consumption coupled with a shift to more sedentary lifestyles. While many treatments for obesity have targeted limiting caloric intake, increasing energy expenditure by targeting cellular bioenergetics in adipose tissue or skeletal muscle may be a promising alternative. Our goal is to:
- Investigate pathways that can activate the thermogenic function of the mitochondria as a therapeutic option for obesity. Thermogenic brown and beige adipocytes, which are characterized by the expression of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in the mitochondria, have attracted considerable attention for their potential anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties.
- We demonstrated previously that brown/beige adipose tissue-specific Yin-Yang 1 (YY1) transcription factor knockout mice are protected from diet-induced obesity and have increased whole body energy expenditure (Molecular Cell Biology, 2015). We will be using the YY1 platform to uncover novel targets for therapy using proteomic, metabolic and genomic approaches.
- Soustek MS, Basla E, Barrow JJ, Jedrychowski M, Vogel R, Jan Smeitink, Gygi SP, Puigserver P. Inhibition of the ER stress IRE1a inflammatory pathway protects against cell death in mitochondrial complex I-mutant cells. Nature-Cell Death and Disease 2018.
- Hossain, M., Knudson, I., Thakur, S., Shen, Y., Stees, J., Barrow, J.J., and J. Bungert. Engineered Zinc Finger DNA-binding domains: Synthesis, Assessment of DNA-binding Affinity, and Direct Protein Delivery to Mammalian Cells. Functional Genomics: Methods in Molecular Biology. Editors: M. Kaufmann, C. Klinger, A. Savelsbergh. Springer Verlag. Methods Mol Biol. 2017; 1654:361-375. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7231-9_27.
- Barrow JJ, Balsa E, Verdeguer F, Tavares CDJ, Soustek MS, Hollingsworth IV LR, Jedrychowski M, Vogel R, Paulo J, Smeitink J, Gygi S, Doench J, Root D, Puigserver P. Bromodomain Inhibitors Correct Bioenergetic Deficiency Caused by Mitochondrial Disease Complex I Mutations. Molecular Cell 2016.
- Verdeguer F, Soustek MS, Hatting M, Blättler SM, McDonald D, Barrow JJ, Puigserver P. Brown Adipose YY1 Deficiency Activates Expression of Secreted Proteins Linked to Energy Expenditure and Prevents Diet-Induced Obesity. Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Oct;36(1):184-96
- Hossain MA, Barrow JJ, Shen Y, Haq MI, Bungert J. Artificial Zinc Finger DNA Binding Domains: Versatile Tools for Genome Engineering and Modulation of Gene Expression. J Cell Biochem. 2015 Nov; 116(11):2435-44.
- Barrow JJ, Li Y, Hossain M, Huang S, Bungert J. Dissecting the function of the adult β-globin downstream promoter region using an artificial zinc finger DNA-binding domain. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Apr; 42(7):4363-74.
- Barrow JJ, Masannat J, Bungert J. Neutralizing the function of a β-globin-associated cis-regulatory DNA element using an artificial zinc finger DNA-binding domain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A. 2012 Oct; 109(44): 17948-53.
- Anantharaman A, Lin I, Barrow JJ, Masannat J, Strouboulis J, Huang S, Bungert J. The Role of Helix-Loop-Helix Proteins During Differentiation of Erythroid Cells. Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Apr;31(7):1332-43
- Hepburn JJ (maiden name), Arthington JD, Hansen SL, Spears JW, Knutson MD. Technical note: copper chaperone for copper, zinc superoxide dismutase: a potential biomarker for copper status in cattle. J Anim Sci.2009 Dec; 87:4161-6.
Certified Registered Dietitian 2008- present
I am extremely passionate about teaching and adopt a differential teaching philosophy. At the undergraduate level, students present with diverse interests and backgrounds. As such, I would design my lectures and coursework to span a broad range of topics for pre-professional students seeking an overview of the material yet with enough detail to target students taking the course as a launching point for their graduate careers.
My approach for advanced undergrads and graduate students would be more comprehensive. Smaller seminars in more intimate settings are ideal environments to delve deeply into specific topics in order to develop critical thinking skills.
Finally, the students in my laboratory will be a group of individuals who have entrusted me to help guide their scientific careers. They are the next generation of scientists and leaders and as their advisor, I would dedicate my utmost time, energy, and resources, to shape their path for a successful career in science. I would strive to engage, challenge, and inspire growth of my students while simultaneously maintaining a balance of independence to provide enough freedom and space for my trainees to be independent and to maximize the extent of their curiosity and fascination. My mentorship will be highly individualized, adapting to each students’ needs and professional goals in order to maximize scientific development and confidence.
Post-Doctoral Fellow- Harvard University (2018)
Doctor of Science- University of Florida (2013)
Master of Science- University of Florida (2008)
Bachelor of Science- University of Florida (2006)