About the Israelsen Lab

Hibernating mammals – including bears, bats, rodents, and even some primates – exhibit extreme metabolic phenotypes. The stereotypical hibernator exhibits seasonal obesity that is reversed during hibernation as the animal neither eats nor drinks for a period of months. During this season-long fast, the animal achieves energy savings by actively slowing its metabolic rate and allowing body temperature to fall to near freezing. A mechanistic understanding of hibernation could have an important impact on human medicine in the areas of metabolism, emergency medicine, surgery, or organ storage.

Our research focuses on foundational questions of hibernation biology by studying molecular and cellular responses to life in the cold, with a long term goal of genetic interrogation of our novel laboratory model of hibernation - the meadow jumping mouse.

We have ongoing research efforts in three main areas: (1) Determination of cold-temperature cell biology phenotypes and their implications for hibernation physiology and bioenergetics; (2) Biochemical investigation of how cold temperature affects the function of key metabolic enzymes and pathways; and (3) Characterization of in vivo hibernation metabolism using the meadow jumping mouse.

Dr. William Israelsen is an independent Sara and Frank McKnight Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the UT Southwestern Medical Center. His work is supported by an NIH Early Independence Award and has been featured on the blog of the NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins.