News & Publications

Featured Investigators

Ursula White, PhD

Dr. Ursula White, a native of Monroe, LA, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Louisiana State University- Baton Rouge. She was awarded the LS-LAMP Bridge to the Doctorate fellowship supported by the National Science Foundation and went on to earn her Ph.D. in the Adipocyte Biology lab at LSU. During her postdoctoral studies, Dr. White was supported by the Diversity Health-Related Research Grant Supplement Award, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As an NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) grant recipient, she was promoted to Assistant Professor in 2014.

Dr. White is the Director of the Physiology of Human Adipose Tissue Laboratory in the department of Clinical Science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Her research addresses the distribution and metabolic functions of adipose (fat) tissue during changes in energy balance and its role in the pathology of obesity-associated health outcomes in humans. She is a thriving investigator with high proficiency as both a clinical and translational researcher, successfully applying her basic science training to presently address clinical concepts.

Dr. White’s laboratory is currently using a state-of-the-art approach with the stable isotope deuterium (2H) to study in vivo adipose metabolism in humans. Notably, she was awarded a LA CaTS Visiting Scholar Program award to visit Dr. Marc Hellerstein’s laboratory at U.C. Berkeley for in-depth training on the 2H-protocol. As a result, she has taken a leading role in developing and establishing this method at Pennington Biomedical, which is now being implemented in various research projects yielding novel data for publications and grant submissions. Recently, Dr. White was awarded an innovative R01 study (R01DK121944; PI: White U) to successfully utilize this innovative 2H-approach to investigate changes in the dynamics of in vivo adipose expansion and remodeling in individuals during weight gain (induced by excess calories) and to examine the association of body weight changes over time with metabolic health outcomes. This project has clinical implications, as it will investigate the health consequences associated with weight gain, which can contribute to obesity and other chronic diseases that often plague the general population.

Dr. White’s other current projects include: (1) an NIH R03 grant (R03DK112006) to examine how variations in subcutaneous abdominal and femoral fat cell size populations (small and large adipocytes) are related to metabolic health markers; (2) a LA CaTS Pilot Grant (CONSUME study) to assess the effects of alcohol consumption on abdominal fat distribution and health outcomes in women; (3) a Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) P&F Grant (VIVA study) to measure and compare in vivo formation of fat cells in women who are either sedentary or very physically active (exercising) using the 2H-method; and (4) a PBRC Special P&F Grant to assess adipocyte turnover (formation and death) in the fat depots of mice in response to an exercise intervention using the 2H-method.

Dr. White serves as a reviewer for the NIH Clinical Integrative Diabetes and Obesity (CIDO) Study Section and is a member of the American Diabetes Association and The Obesity Society.