Professor of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology
Division of Food, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences (FNES)
Research at a glance
Area(s) of Expertise
Dr. Rector is actively involved in graduate and medical student education at the University of Missouri. In addition, Dr. Rector has an active research program focused on prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Dr. Rector’s lab takes a translational approach to examine these chronic conditions, employing strategies in cell culture systems, small and large animal models, and intervention studies in humans. One of his primary research interests involves examining the causes of the development and progression of NAFLD, a chronic liver disease comprised of a spectrum of liver pathologies ranging from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH; hepatic inflammation and fibrosis) and cirrhosis. NAFLD increases morbidity and mortality and affects greater than 30% of the general US adult population. Despite these staggering numbers, causes of NAFLD, the factors that trigger disease progression and effective treatment strategies remain poorly defined. Dr. Rector is examining nutritional, lifestyle and pharmacological interventions in animal models and studies in humans to help fight the NAFLD epidemic. His findings have helped lead to a better understanding of the importance of increased physical activity and fitness in the prevention and treatment of NAFLD. In addition, work from his lab has established that mitochondrial dysfunction is intimately linked to NASH development and progression. Moreover, emerging evidence from his lab in animal models suggests that diets high in soy protein have beneficial effects on hepatic lipid metabolism and can lower NAFLD. Dr. Rector’s work is supported by several industry and federal grants, including the NIH and Veteran’s Health Administration.