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Kevin Lee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

HCOM - Biomedical Sciences 
ARC 202E

Education: Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX  2007

Research Interest: Molecular and Cellular Biology

The global increase in obesity is a major force driving the epidemic of type 2 diabetes.
Over the past decade it has become clear that both obesity and adipose tissue are more complex than originally believed. Recent research from my laboratory has found that adipocytes are heterogeneous in nature, arise from different developmental lineages,
and have distinct phenotypic properties.

The central goal of my laboratory is to understand at a molecular and cellular level what accounts for heterogeneity between white adipocyte subpopulations and to study the effect these different adipocyte
subpopulations have on systemic metabolism. To this end, we have developed novel cell and mouse
models to study adipocyte biology. Knowledge gained from this research will aid in the identification
of specific markers and the development of therapeutic approaches to combat the metabolic disorders
associated with obesity. Students participating in the laboratory would learn standard molecular
biology techniques (gel electrophoresis, PCR, western blot, immunohistochemistry), as well as cell
culture, mouse genetics, state of the art confocal microscopy, and lineage tracing analysis.

Selected Publications


Householder, L. A., Comisford, R., Duran-Ortiz, S., Lee, K. Y., Troike, K., Wilson, C., Jara, A., Harberson, M., List, E. O., Kopchick, J. J., Berryman, D. E.  (2017) Increased fibrosis: A novel means by which GH influences white adipose tissue function. Growth Hormone & IGF Research: Official Journal of the Growth Hormone Research Society and the International IGF Research Society.


Ondrusova, K., Fatehi, M., Barr, A., Czarnecka, Z., Long, W., Suzuki, K., Suzuki, K., Campbell, S., Philippaert, K., Hubert, M., Tredget, E., Kwan, P., Touret, N., Wabitsch, M., Lee, K. Y., Light, P. E. (2017). Subcutaneous white adipocytes express a light sensitive signaling pathway mediated via a melanopsin/TRPC channel axis. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 16332.


Ghadieh, H. E., Muturi, H. T., Russo, L., Marino, C. C., Ghanem, S. S., Khuder, S. S., Hanna, J. C., Jash, S., Puri, V., Heinrich, G., Gatto-weis, C., Lee, K. Y.,  Najjar, S. M. (2018). Exenatide induces carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 1 expression to prevent hepatic steatosis. Hepatology Communications, 2(1), 35–47.


Lee, K. Y., Sharma, R., Gase, G., Ussar, S., Li, Y., Welch, L., … Kahn, C. R. (2017). Tbx15 Defines a Glycolytic Subpopulation and White Adipocyte Heterogeneity. Diabetes, 66(11), 2822–2829.


Ussar, S., Haering, M.-F., Fujisaka, S., Lutter, D., Lee, K. Y., Li, N., … Kahn, C. R. (2017). Regulation of Glucose Uptake and Enteroendocrine Function by the Intestinal Epithelial Insulin Receptor. Diabetes, 66(4), 886–896.


O’Neill, B. T., Lee, K. Y., Klaus, K., Softic, S., Krumpoch, M. T., Fentz, J., … Kahn, C. R. (2016). Insulin and IGF-1 receptors regulate FoxO-mediated signaling in muscle proteostasis. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 126(9), 3433–3446.


Lee, K. Y., Singh, M. K., Ussar, S., Wetzel, P., Hirshman, M. F., Goodyear, L. J., … Kahn, C. R. (2015). Tbx15 controls skeletal muscle fibre-type determination and muscle metabolism. Nature Communications, 6, 8054.


Ussar, S., Lee, K. Y., Dankel, S. N., Boucher, J., Haering, M.-F., Kleinridders, A., … Kahn, C. R. (2014). ASC-1, PAT2, and P2RX5 are cell surface markers for white, beige, and brown adipocytes. Science Translational Medicine, 6(247), 247ra103.


Mori, M. A., Thomou, T., Boucher, J., Lee, K. Y., Lallukka, S., Kim, J. K., … Kahn, C. R. (2014). Altered miRNA processing disrupts brown/white adipocyte determination and associates with lipodystrophy. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(8), 3339–3351.


Jing, E., O’Neill, B. T., Rardin, M. J., Kleinridders, A., Ilkeyeva, O. R., Ussar, S., Bain, J. R., Lee, K. Y., Verdin, E. M., Newgard, C. B., Gibson, B. W.,  Kahn, C. R. (2013). Sirt3 regulates metabolic flexibility of skeletal muscle through reversible enzymatic deacetylation. Diabetes, 62(10), 3404–3417.


Darlington, Y., Jeong, J.-W., Lee, K. Y., Franco, H. L., Chen, E. S., McOwiti, A., … DeMayo, F. J. (2013). Research resource: the Endometrium Database Resource (EDR). Molecular Endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.), 27(3), 548–554.


Lee, K. Y., Yamamoto, Y., Boucher, J., Winnay, J. N., Gesta, S., Cobb, J., … Kahn, C. R. (2013). Shox2 is a molecular determinant of depot-specific adipocyte function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(28), 11409–11414.