Bruce A. Watkins, Ph.D.

Bruce Watkins

Unit
Research Nutritionist, Department of Nutrition
Purdue University Emeritus Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences
Adjunct Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine
Scientist/educator member of the UCONN Health Center, Center on Aging, UConn AgingNet


Bio
Contact Bruce Watkins
Education
  • B.S., Biological Sciences, Colorado State University
  • M.S., Nutrition and Bacteriology, Colorado State University
  • Ph.D., Nutrition and Physiological Chemistry, University of California, Davis
Research Interests

Dr. Watkins is a Purdue University Emeritus Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences. He is an adjunct Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Nutrition Research and currently a scientist and educator member of the University of Connecticut Health Center, Center on Aging, UConn AgingNet.

Primary - Energy balance, obesity & endocannabinoid signaling: The research aim is to understand the role of endocannabinoid (EC) signaling in 1) systemic energy metabolism, and 2) glucose use and insulin sensitivity in muscle. In these investigations we are interested in how dysregulation of EC signaling influences obesity and insulin resistance and the role that dietary lipids play in EC signaling. Secondary - Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and kidney disease: The purpose of this research is to explain and understand the health risks associated with low intakes of DHA and EPA on cardiovascular disease in hemodialysis patients. His role is to provide analytical support for lipids and nutrition expertise for the PI, Dr. Allon Friedman. Recently, his role has expanded to leading studies on metabolomics of hemodialysis patients. Past - Bone/musculoskeletal biology: The first goal was to understand the role of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on muscle and bone metabolism for optimal nutrition. The research was directed at characterizing how specific fatty acids and phytochemicals impact osteoblast function and bone modeling/remodeling and muscle development. These experiments investigated the actions of nutrients on genes (COX, osteocalcin, alkaline phosphatase, BMP) in bone cell cultures and various animal models. The second goal was a paradigm that examined how long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids altered genes of osteoblast differentiation (Cbfa1) associated with bone formation and osteoclastogenesis (osteoprotegrin OPG/OPGL).

Professional Researcher, University of California, Davis, 2017-present
  • Associate, Agricultural Experiment Station, University of California, Davis, 2012-2017
  • Professor, Center on Aging, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT, 2012-present and UCONN Storrs,CT 2010-2017
  • Professor Emeritus of Nutrition, Purdue University, 2010-present
  • Director and founder, Center for Enhancing Foods to Protect Health, 2000-2007
  • Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, adjunct, 1997-present, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine,
  • Professor, Department of Food Science & Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, 1997-2010
  • University Faculty Scholar, Purdue University, 1999-2005
  • Professor, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, 2005-2010
  • Associate Professor, 1991-97 (tenure 1993), Department of Food Science & Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University
  • Assistant Professor 1987-1991, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State University
  • Assistant Professor, 1985-1987, Departments of Animal Science & Human Nutrition, Washington State University
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, 1986-1987, Department of Poultry Sci., Oregon State University
Professional Appointments

Editor-in-Chief, Nutrition Research, Elsevier, 2004-present [Elsevier link]

Awards and Honors

  • Academy of Teaching Scholars, IUSM, Indiana University, School of MedicineSchool, faculty member, 2009 - 2011
  • Babcock-Hart Award, (national award in nutritional biochemistry) IFT and International Life Sciences Institute, July, 2004
  • University Faculty Scholar, first time recipient for excellence in research and teaching, Purdue University, April 1999-2005.
  • Research and Development Award (national award for research on lipids and growth factors in bone), IFT, 1999
  • Outstanding Paper Presentation, AOCS, 1999, 1996
  • Bio-Serv Award (national young investigator in nutritional biochemistry), ASNS (formerly AIN), 1994
  • Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Visiting Lecturer, 1994
  • PSA National Research Award (national young investigator award in bone metabolism), 1990
  • American Heart Association, Research Award, 1989-1991
Selected Publications

Watkins BA. (2018). Endocannabinoids, exercise, pain, and a path to health with aging. Molecular Aspects of Medicine 64: 68-78. [Science Direct]

Watkins BA, Kim J, Tamez H, Wenger J, Thadhani R, Friedman AN. (2016). Serum phospholipid fraction of polyunsaturated fatty acids is the preferred indicator for nutrition and health status in hemodialysis patients. J Nutr Biochem 38:18-24. [PubMed]

Friedman, AN, Kim J, Kaiser S, Pedersen TL, Newman JW, Watkins BA. (2016). Associate between plasma endocannabinoids and appetite score in hemodialysis patients: a pilot study. Nutr. Res. 36:658-662. [PubMed]

Watkins BA, Kim J, Kenny A, Pedersen TL, Pappan KL, Newman JW. (2016). Circulating levels of endocannabinoids and oxylipins altered by dietary lipids in older women are likely associated with previously identified gene targets. Biochemica et Biophysica Acta 1861:1693-1704. [PubMed]

Kim J, Carlson M, Kuchel G, Newman J, Watkins BA (2015). Dietary DHA reduces downstream endocannabinoid and inflammatory gene expression and epididymal fat mass while improving aspects of glucose use in muscle in C57BL/6J mice. Int J Obesity. [PubMed]

Watkins BA and Kim J (2014). The endocannabinoid system: directing eating behavior and macronutrient metabolism. Front Psych. 5:1506. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01506.

Kim J, and Watkins BA (2014). Cannabinoid receptor antagonists and fatty acids alter endocannabinoid system gene expression and COX activity. J Nutr Biochem. 25(8):815-823. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.03.012.

Kim J, Carlson M, Watkins BA (2014). Docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide improves glucose uptake and alters endocannabinoid system gene expression in proliferating and differentiating C2C12 myoblasts. Front Physiol. 5:100. DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00100.

Hutchins-Wiese HL, Picho K, Watkins BA, Li Y, Tannenbaum S, Claffey K, Kenny AM (2014). High-dose eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation reduces bone resorption in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitors: a pilot study. Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(1):68-76. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.847964. Epub 2013 Nov 25. PMID: 24274259

Mahabir S, Baer DJ, Pfeiffer RM, Li Y, Watkins BA, Taylor PR (2014). Low to moderate alcohol consumption on serum vitamin D and other indicators of bone health in postmenopausal women in a controlled feeding study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Nov;68(11):1267-70. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.191. Epub 2014 Sep 17. PMID: 25226824

Friedman AN, Zhangsheng Yu, Rebeka Tabbey, Cheryl Denski, Hector Tamez, Julia Wenger, Ravi Thadhani, Yong Li, Watkins BA (2013).  Fatty acids and other risk factors for sudden cardiac death in patients starting hemodialysis. Am J Nephrol. 2013;38(1):12-8. doi: 10.1159/000351764. Epub 2013 Jun 25. PMID: 23816975

Friedman AN, Yu Z, Denski C, Tamez H, Wenger J, Thadhani R, Li Y, Watkins BA. (2013). Inverse relationship between long-chain n-3 fatty acids and risk of sudden cardiac death in patients starting hemodialysis.  Kidney Int. 2013 Jun;83(6):1130-5. doi: 10.1038/ki.2013.4. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Kim, J., Li, Y. & Watkins, B.A. (2013) Fat to treat fat: emerging relationship between dietary PUFA, endocannabinoids, and obesity. Prost & Other Lipid Med, 104-105:32-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.prostaglandins.2012.11.005.

Friedman, A.N., Yu, Z., Tabbey, R., Denski, C., Tamex, H., Wenger, J., Thadhani, R., Li, Y. & Watkins, B.A. (2012) Low blood levels of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in U.S. hemodialysis patients: Clinical implications. Am. J. Nephrol. 36(5):451-8.

Hennig, B., Ormsbee, L., McClain, C.J., Watkins, B.A., Blumberg, B., Bachas, L.G., Sanderson, W., Thompson, C. & Suk, W.A. (2012) Nutrition can modulate the toxicity of environmental pollutants: Implications in risk assessment and human health. Environ. Health Perspect.  120(6):771-774.

Hutchins-Wiese, H., Li, Y., Hannon, K. & Watkins, B.A. (2012) Hind limb suspension and long-chain omega-3 PUFA increase mRNA endocannabinoid system levels in skeletal muscle.  J. Nutr. Biochem. 23:986-993.

Kim J. & Watkins, B.A. (2011) Endocannabinoid signaling and energy metabolism: A target for dietary intervention. Nutrition 27:624-632.

Hutchins, L. H., Li, Y., Hannon, K. & Watkins, B.A. (2011) Eicosapentaenoic acid decreases expression of anandamide synthesis enzyme and cannabinoid receptor 2 in osteoblast-like cells.  J. Nutr. Biochem. 22:195-200.

Watkins, B.A., Hutchins, H, Li, Y. & Seifert, M.F. (2010) The endocannabinoid signaling system: a marriage of PUFA and musculoskeletal health.  J. Nutr. Biochem. 21: 1141-1152.

Li, Y., Seifert, M.F., Lim, S.Y., Salem, N. Jr. & Watkins, B.A. (2010) Bone mineral content is positively correlated to n-3 fatty acids in the femur of growing rats. Br. J. Nutr. 104:674-685.

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