During the hurricane in October, 2013, electrical power to Thompson Hall was off for approximately 60 hours;Thompson Hall lacks back-up power. Consequently, there was no power to our 2 -80C freezers, 2 -20C freezers, 1 refrigerator with freezer compartment, and 1 cold room. During the power outage, these units reached ambient temperature causing the contents to thaw and reach ambient temperature. Additionally, in the immediate aftermath of the storm, travel was restricted in my community (Little Silver), which is very near the ocean and surrounded by brackish estuaries of the Shrewsbury River;travel was restricted due to extensive flooding, downed trees and powerlines, and the need to keep the roads free for emergency vehicles. I was able to travel to Rutgers approximately 40 hours after the beginning of the power outage. Once at Rutgers, I learned of the status of the freezers and that there was no contingency plan to provide power to Thompson Hall. Fortunately, I identified space in of a -80C freezer in a neighboring building with limited emergency power (Foran Hall) to which frozen materials could be transferred. Items in -80C freezers were still frozen, so I performed rapid triage to determine the most important materials to transfer to the freezer in Foran Hall. The transferred materials included custom antisera that we have developed over the past 15 years, and research tools and materials that are being used for current ongoing projects, including a large number of adenoviral expression vectors. I made the decision not to transfer commercial reagents that can be replaced, albeit at considerable expense. There was also insufficient space for materials from ongoing experiments that had been stored at -20C and 4C;these materials included samples from recent experiments that were being stored prior to analysis for protein or lipid content, and plasmids for partially completed subcloning experiments. I reasoned that DNA is relatively stable and would Page 3 of 9 2 likely survive the thaw, whereas protein and cell samples would be too degraded for further experimentation and would need to be regenerated by repeat experiments. There was simply insufficient space to save everything. Following the storm, the University requested that we inventory materials that were lost or damaged during the power outage. We compiled an inventory of lost reagents, solutions, and media that had been purchased from commercial sources;the itemized list showed loss of $83,725 of reagents and research tools. We did not inventory samples from ongoing experiments since estimation of relative cost of the loss is difficult and subjective. Moving forward into the next hurricane season, the Department of Nutritional Sciences plans to purchase portable gas-powered generators to provide electricity to a minimal number of freezers in the event of an extended power outage;we anticipate that 2 of our freezers (out of 4) will be placed on emergency power in the event of a power outage, allowing rescue of the most important research materials. The University is discussing alternatives for more permanent solutions to potential long term loss of power.

Public Health Relevance

Adipocytes (fat cells) in adipose tissue store the major energy reserves of the body as triacylglycerols in struc- tures called lipid droplets. Obese individuals have enlarged lipid droplets in adipocytes when compared to lean individuals. Lipid droplets are covered with perilipin; a protein which controls the metabolism of triacylglycerols; and hence; the release of fatty acids into the blood for use as a source of energy by various tissues of the body. Obesity is characterized by inappropriate and excessive release of fatty acids into circulation; these fatty acids are taken up by muscle and liver and contribute to the development of insulin resistance (which occurs in type II diabetes) and fatty liver. Our understanding of the mechanisms by which perilipin controls triacylglycerol (fat) metabolism in adipocytes is incomplete; the proposed research will increase understanding of these mechanisms; and identify potential new targets for therapeutic intervention to control release of fatty acids from adipose tissue.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
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Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity Study Section (CADO)
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Haft, Carol R
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Rutgers University
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
New Brunswick
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Brasaemle, Dawn L; Wolins, Nathan E (2012) Packaging of fat: an evolving model of lipid droplet assembly and expansion. J Biol Chem 287:2273-9
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