Research Program. Precision nutrition and obesity

Group leader: Dra. Julie Chowen

Objectives:The focus of this Program is on childhood obesity and the study of the molecular basis of this disease and its comorbidities in order to promote precision therapies, including nutritional approaches and new treatments for monogenic obesity. It is essential to know the causes of childhood obesities, including epigenetics, genetics, genomics and diet and to investigate their influence on longterm health outcomes. Special attention is placed on understanding and predicting the development of comorbidities in children with severe early onset obesity, including metabolomics and microbiota analysis. Preclinical studies to understand the effects of early nutrition and hormonal changes on long-term metabolic health and how the brain, especially glial cells, responds to specific nutrients that affect metabolism and neuroinflammation are also a major focus of this program.

Dra. Julie Chowen

Investigator of the Community of Madrid Category A in the Department of Pediatrics and laboratory of Research at the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital in Madrid. Associate researcher of IMDEA Food. Co-Director of the Childhood Precision Nutrition Program

Dr. Chowen received her PhD in Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, USA. She obtained a postdoctoral position and later as a research associate at the Cajal Institute, CSIC, Madrid, Spain. She is currently President of the Scientific Committee of the Foundation for Biomedical Investigation of the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital in Madrid. Co-IP in the CIBER of Obesity and Nutrition. Her main interests include the neuroendocrine control of metabolism and appetite, with a special emphasis on the participation of astrocytes in the physiological and pathophysiological control of metabolism and the developmentof comorbidities associated to obesity. Her research also includes the neuroendocrine response to specificnutrients, long-term effects of  the early nutritional environment and sex differences in response to nutritional/ metabolic challenges. She has published over 200 original articles and has given lectures at the most important international meetings of endocrinology, neuroendocrinology and obesity.

Dr. Jesús Argente Oliver

Full Professor and Director of the Department of Pediatrics at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Director of the Department of Pediatrics and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Endocrinology and Director of the Laboratory of Research at the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital. Associate researcher of IMDEA Food. Director of the Childhood Precision Nutrition Program

Dr. Argente is IP in the CIBER of Obesity and Nutrition, being the leader of the childhood obesity program. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Zaragoza and completed his pediatric residency at the Hospital Ramón y Cajal in Madrid and has worked at the Hospital Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris, France, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, USA and at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, USA. His main research interests include childhood obesity, pathophysiology of human growth, puberty, eating disorders and diabetes. He has published more than 300 original articles and has lectured in more than 30 countries. He is past president of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) and past president of the Spanish Society for Pediatric Endocrinology (SEEP). He has obtained multiple national and international awards for his research.

Beatriz Martínez Blanco

Laboratory technician

Beatriz Martínez Blanco holds the degree in Superior Laboratory Technician since 2006. She obtained the certificate for New Therapeutics Drugs Discovery applying High Throughput Screening technique by University Juan Carlos I (Madrid, Spain). She worked as Quality Supervisor at Lilly S.A. from 2007-2009 and as Lab Manager at Fundación Parque Científico de Madrid under the supervision of D. Antonio Díaz and D. Alejandro Arranz. In 2016, she worked as Laboratory Technician in the Department of Microbiology at Centre for Molecular Biology – Severo Ochoa (Madrid, Spain), under the supervision of Dr. Mercedes Dávila. In 2017, she worked in the Department of Research for New Drugs at ROVI until her joining to IMDEA Food in 2017, where she worked as Laboratory Technician of GENYAL Platform of Nutritional Genomics. She joined Precision Nutrition and Obesity Program, headed by Prof. José Mª Ordovás, at IMDEA Food in 2021 as Lab Manager of the research program. Along her professional career, she has gained experience in multiple laboratory techniques and standard operating procedures.



most relevant publications
  • Sex, puberty, and ethnicity have a strong influence on growth and metabolic comorbidities in children and adolescents with obesity: Report on 1300 patients (the Madrid Cohort). Martos-Moreno GÁ, Martínez-Villanueva J, González-Leal R, Chowen JA, Argente J. Pediatr Obes. 2019 Dec;14(12):e12565. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12565.  PMID:31373441.
  • Heterozygous rare genetic variants in non-syndromic early-onset obesity. Serra-Juhé C, Martos-Moreno GÁ, Bou de Pieri F, Flores R, Chowen JA, Pérez-Jurado LA, Argente J. Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Mar 29. doi: 10.1038/s41366-019-0357-5.  PMID:30926952.
  • Metabolomics allows the discrimination of the pathophysiological relevance of hyperinsulinism in obese prepubertal children. Martos-Moreno GÁ, Mastrangelo A, Barrios V, García A, Chowen JA, Rupérez FJ, Barbas C, Argente J. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017 Oct;41(10):1473-1480. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.137. PMID:28588306.
  • Novel genes involved in severe early-onset obesity revealed by rare copy number and sequence variants. Serra-Juhé C, Martos-Moreno GÁ, Bou de Pieri F, Flores R, González JR, Rodríguez-Santiago B, Argente J, Pérez-Jurado LA. PLoS Genet. 2017 May 10;13(5):e1006657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006657. PMID: 27163744.
  • Leptin regulates glutamate and glucose transporters in hypothalamic astrocytes. Fuente-Martín E, García-Cáceres C, Granado M, de Ceballos ML, Sánchez-Garrido MÁ, Sarman B, Liu ZW, Dietrich MO, Tena-Sempere M, Argente-Arizón P, Díaz F, Argente J, Horvath TL, Chowen JA. J Clin Invest. 2012 Nov;122(11):3900-13. doi: 10.1172/JCI64102. PMID:23064363.