Heat production in response to cold exposure is an energetically demanding process. To fuel thermogenesis during cold exposure, brown adipocytes increase both glucose and lipid uptake. The unique capacity for thermogenic energy expenditure has made brown adipose tissue an attractive target for the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and the metabolic syndrome, especially with the recent discovery that greater brown adipose mass in humans is inversely correlated with obesity.
The metabolic fuel that drives thermogenesis in brown fat is produced in peripheral tissues and must be transported into brown adipose tissue. The long-term focus of my research program is to understand the sources of lipids that fuel brown fat thermogenesis and uncover the cross-tissue communication pathways that regulate the production of these lipids. We will address these questions using lipidomics, genetics, and cellular and molecular biology techniques coupled with mouse physiology.