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Peggy R. Biga

Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Chapter Leader: Alabama SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Science & Technology

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About Peggy

Biga's research focuses on understanding the mechanisms regulating organismal growth, with a particular interest in skeletal muscle growth and metabolism. Currently, Biga’s research is centered on understanding how environmental factors, like nutritional input, affect muscle-specific gene pathways. Biga's lab utilizes genetics, genomics, biochemical, and physiological approaches to reveal mechanisms of interactions between dietary nutrients, molecular pathways, and phenotypic output. One major aim of this work is to decipher the maternal and epigenetic effects of diet on offspring phenotype and performance. In addition, Biga's lab is examining local endocrine action in regulating muscle metabolism and function across the lifespan, as well an in genetic muscular disease, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


Overarching themes in Biga's writings include peer-reviewed manuscripts detailing epigenetic regulation of growth, endocrine control of muscle growth, and endocrine regulation of stress and growth. 
Biga serves on the Mayor Woodfin Education and Workforce Training Committee. Biga recently served on the Executive Board of Southside Ball Association, a youth sports program for inner city kids, as Communication Officer and then Vice President. Biga is an active member and volunteer with the PTA at Phillips Academy a public magnet, International Baccalaureate K-8 school in Birmingham, AL.

Biga directs a science mentorship program that puts graduate and undergraduate students from UAB in science classrooms in Birmingham inner city public K-8 schools to enhance science literacy and achievement in minority students. UAB students receive credit for mentoring while K-8 students and their teachers engage in hands-on science activities and science fair project mentoring. This program also works closely with the Freedom Rains Academy, a local woman's shelter school academy).

Publications

"Revisiting the Paradigm of Myostatin in Vertebrates: Insights from Fishes" (with Jean-Charles Gabillard, P.Y. Rescan, and Iban Seiliez). General and Comparative Endocrinology 194 (2013): 45-54.

Summarizes the knowledge about myostatin in growth.

"Zebrafish and Giant Danio as Models for Muscle Growth: Determinate Versus Indeterminate Growth as Determined by Morphometric Analysis" (with Frederick William Goetz). American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 291 (2006): 1237-37.

Defined how varying growth paradigms, or life-long growth potentials, are present in closely related species. This work led to a major aspect of my research program's focus on identifying mechanisms regulating organismal growth.

"The Isolation, Characterization, and Expression of a Novel GDF11 Gene and a Second Myostatin Form in Zebrafish" (with SR Roberts, DB Illiev, LAR McCauley, and FW Goetz). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 141, no. 2 (2005): 218-230.

Details the identification of a second myostatin gene and an evolutionarily conserved GDF-11 gene in zebrafish. This work provided the groundwork for expanding our knowledge of the GDF genes in muscle growth.

"Growth Hormone Differentially Regulates Myostatin-I and –II and Increases Circulating Cortisol in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss)" (with Kenneth Cain, Ronald Hardy, GT Schelling, Kenneth Overturft, SB Roberts, Frederick William Goetz, and TL Ott). General and Comparative Endocrinology 138, no. 1 (2004): 32-41.

Describes how growth hormone acts locally at the muscle tissue level to regulate genes important in cell cycle maintenance.

"The Effects of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rbST) on Tissue IGF-I, IGF-I Receptor, and GH mRNA Levels in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss)" (with Kenneth Cain, Ronald Hardy, Ken Overturf, Gerald T. Schelling, and Troy L. Ott). General and Comparative Endocrinology 153, no. 3 (2004): 324-33.

Details an early evaluation of how growth hormone locally affects the expression of insulin-like growth factor genes in skeletal muscle tissue.