Welcome to the Fetal Programming Research Group’s Homepage

Based in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut, the objective of our research is to determine how poor maternal diet (both over- and under-feeding) alters fetal and post-natal offspring growth and development. Our research team includes the labs of Dr. Kristen Govoni, Dr. Sarah Reed, and Dr. Steven Zinn.

Ongoing Projects




Multi-generational effects of poor maternal nutrition

Poor maternal nutrition during gestation decreases metabolism, increases oxidative stress, and increases pro-inflammatory mediators, which can decrease offspring growth and feed efficiency. Offspring sex also mediates the type and magnitude of response to poor maternal nutrition during gestation. However, the relative importance of each mediator to reduced growth rate due to poor maternal nutrition is not well understood, and the mechanisms by which these changes are transmitted to future generations remains ill-defined. The central hypothesis for this USDA-NIFA funded project is that poor maternal nutrition during gestation causes multi-generational negative effects to offspring oxidative status, inflammation, and metabolism that are correlated with changes in F1 and F2 offspring growth, feed efficiency, and sex.

Effects of restricted maternal nutrition and realimentation on muscle development in the offspring

Realimentation, or the process of re-feeding following a period of nutrient restriction, may be a mechanism to ameliorate the negative effects of restricted nutrition during gestation. The objectives of this project are to determine the effects of restricted-feeding followed by a period of realimentation during gestation on the growth and development of muscle fibers. This project is a collaboration with North Dakota State University and is currently funded by USDA-NIFA.
muscle fibers

Effects of maternal diet on muscle satellite cell function and metabolism in the offspring

Muscle satellite cells are stem cells involved in fetal muscle development and post-natal growth. The objectives of this project are to determine the effects of under- and over-feeding during gestation on the ability of satellite cells to fuse into multinucleated myotubes, and to determine changes in satellite cell and muscle metabolism due to poor maternal nutrition during gestation. This project is currently funded by USDA-NIFA.