Dr. Watkins is a Purdue University Emeritus Professor of Foods and Nutrition. 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 Professor of Nutrition and Biosciences at the University of Connecticut. He is affiliated with the Center on Aging.
His research is focused on three goals. The first goal is to determine the role of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on muscle and bone metabolism. The research is directed at characterizing how specific fatty acids support osteoblast functions, bone modeling/remodeling and muscle development. These experiments are designed to investigate the actions of nutrients on transcription factors and genes (COX, osteocalcin, alkaline phosphatase, BMP) in bone cell cultures and various animal models. The second goal is to characterize endocannabinoid (EC) signaling in muscle and bone communications, systemic energy metabolism and aging. In these investigations we are interested in how dysregulation of EC signaling contributes to obesity and insulin resistance. The paradigm is the study of dietary lipids effects on endogenous ligand levels and EC signaling. The third goal is the study of dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in kidney disease. The purpose of this research is to explain and understand the health risk factors associated with the low intake of DHA and EPA on cardiovascular disease incidence in hemodialysis patients. His primary role has been analytical support for lipid analyses and nutrition guidance but more recently leading studies on the metabolomics of hemodialysis patients.