The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases

Center for Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases

Mikhail Kolonin, PhD - Associate Professor & Director

Vihang, Narkar, PhD - Assistant Professor

Sheng Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Qingchun Tong, PhD., - Assistant Professor

Nick Justice, PhD - Assistant Professor 

Kai Sun, MD, PhD - Assistant Professor 

Kristin Eckel Mahan, PhD - Assistant Professor 

Rebecca Berdeaux, PhD - Assistant Professor 

The Center for Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases is a diverse group that takes an integrative approach to tackle some of the most pressing health challenges of our time: obesity and the associated diseases such as diabetes, and cancer, as well as muscle wasting and neurodegenerative diseases. These different health conditions involve defects in multiple related cell signaling pathways and physiological processes. The guiding vision for the Center has been to recruit investigators with focus on complementary aspects of energy metabolism, cell signaling and cell fate determination. Key questions being addressed by the Center’s faculty include the following:  

  • How are progenitors of fat-storing and fat-burning adipocytes regulated?
  • How do cells from adipose tissue promote progression of certain cancers?
  • Can pharmacological depletion of adipose tissue cells be used therapeutically?
  • How does the brain control the body’s energy balance?
  • What are the transcriptional pathways that can be targeted to treat muscle diseases?
  • How is angiogenesis molecularly regulated in health and disease?
  • What are the functions of the genes mutated in neurodegenerative diseases?
  • How does abnormal processing of proteins cause neuronal degeneration?
  • How does stress impact Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis?
  • How can we ameliorate the neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

To address these questions, the Center employs state-of-the-art methods in model organisms, including the mouse and the fruit fly. Collaboration among the Center’s laboratories promotes research synergy, thereby increasing productivity and innovation. The Center’s faculty also collaborate with epidemiologists, biochemists, and clinicians to speed the translation of their discoveries for the benefit of patients with metabolic and degenerative diseases.

From (L to R) -  Kai Sun, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor), Sheng Zhang, PhD (Assistant Professor), Qingchun Tong, PhD (Assistant Professor), Mikhail Kolonin, PhD (Associate Professor & Center Director), Nick Justice, PhD (Assistant Professor), Kristin Eckel Mahan, PhD (Assistant Professor), Vihang Narkar, PhD (Assistant Professor), Rebecca Berdeaux, PhD (Assistant Professor)  

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