Xiaoli Chen Lab Spotlight

Xiaoli Chen portraitEach month we are highlighting one of our professors, their students, and their research. This month we highlight the work of Professor Xiaoli Chen and her researchers Sheryl Qiu and Derek Lin. 

What are you Driven to Discover?

Our lab research goal is to uncover the mystery of how obesity and type 2 diabetes develop and how diets prevent their development and progression.  

What is the impact of your research in your field?

Our work has provided novel information that helps people understand 1) the molecular mechanisms underlying adipose tissue dysfunction in obesity and during aging, and 2) the molecular mechanisms by which dietary components regulate energy metabolism and prevent metabolic diseases.

How can people see the impact of your research on everyday life?

Our research helps people understand how diets affect the development and progression of obesity and type 2 diabetes at the molecular level. The outcomes of our research provide scientific basis for the development of appropriate approaches for preventing or treating obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases.  

What drew you to your field of study?

My curiosity and passion for medicine and nutrition-related diseases.

What is your favorite research/lab tool and why?

We attempt to use omics technologies to address scientific questions as these technologies help us to understand human biology as a whole. 

What is your greatest research accomplishment?

Our lab has taken the lead in characterizing metabolic functions of adipose tissue-derived proteins in obesity and diabetes. Our work has identified the role of Lipocalin 2, a adipose-derived protein as a critical regulator of energy and mitochondrial metabolism. We have also characterized the function of omega-3 fatty acids and food bioactive compounds in thermogenic function and metabolism of adipocytes.

What do you hope to accomplish next?

We will continue to investigate the roles and mechanisms of adipose-derived factors in the regulation of physiological functions as well as aging/obesity-related dysfunction of white and brown adipose tissue. Additionally, we will continue to develop research programs in characterizing functional effects of healthy foods and dietary components on the epigenetic control of obesity and diabetes.