Brown Fat Physiology Group


Brown fat is a heat-producing organ playing a key role in thermal regulation. In response to environmental and nutritional cues, brown fat modulates substrate metabolism, thereby exerting determinative influences on whole body energy balance. Recent re-discovery of brown fat in humans has opened new avenues in diabetes and metabolism research. Our group focuses on studying human brown fat physiology. The goal is to discover strategies to harness brown fat thermogenic properties for therapeutic purposes.

Selected Publications

Lee P. Wasting Energy to Treat Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2016;375:2298-2300.

Lee P, Bova R, Schofield L, Bryant W, Dieckmann W, Slattery A, Govendir MA, Emmett L, Greenfield JR. Brown Adipose Tissue Exhibits a Glucose-Responsive Thermogenic Biorhythm in Humans. Cell Metab. 2016;23:602-9.

Lee P, Swarbrick MM, Greenfield JR. The sum of all browning in FGF21 therapeutics. Cell Metab. 2015;21(6):795-6.

Lee P, Smith S, Linderman J, Courville AB, Brychta RJ, Dieckmann W, Werner CD, Chen KY, Celi FS. Temperature-acclimated brown adipose tissue modulates insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabetes. 2014;63:3686-98.

Lee P, Linderman JD, Smith S, Brychta RJ, Wang J, Idelson C, Perron RM, Werner CD, Phan GQ, Kammula US, Kebebew E, Pacak K, Chen KY, Celi FS. Irisin and FGF21 are cold-induced endocrine activators of brown fat function in humans. Cell Metab. 2014;19:302-9.

Lee P, Werner CD, Kebebew E, Celi FS. Functional thermogenic beige adipogenesis is inducible in human neck fat. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014;38:170-6.

Lee P, Linderman J, Smith S, Brychta RJ, Perron R, Idelson C, Werner CD, Chen KY, Celi FS. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) and bone: is there a relationship in humans? Osteoporos Int. 2013;24:3053-7.

Lee P, Brychta RJ, Collins MT, Linderman J, Smith S, Herscovitch P, Millo C, Chen KY, Celi FS. Cold-activated brown adipose tissue is an independent predictor of higher bone mineral density in women. Osteoporos Int. 2013;24:1513-8.

Lee P, Brychta RJ, Linderman J, Smith S, Chen KY, Celi FS. Mild cold exposure modulates fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) diurnal rhythm in humans: relationship between FGF21 levels, lipolysis, and cold-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98:E98-102.

Lee P, Swarbrick MM, Ho KK. Brown adipose tissue in adult humans: a metabolic renaissance. Endocr Rev. 2013;34:413-38.

Lee P, Swarbrick MM, Zhao JT, Ho KK. Inducible brown adipogenesis of supraclavicular fat in adult humans. Endocrinology. 2011;152:3597-602.

Lee P, Zhao JT, Swarbrick MM, Gracie G, Bova R, Greenfield JR, Freund J, Ho KK. High prevalence of brown adipose tissue in adult humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96:2450-5.

Lee P, Greenfield JR, Ho KK, Fulham MJ. A critical appraisal of the prevalence and metabolic significance of brown adipose tissue in adult humans. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2010;299:E601-6.

Lee P, Ho KK, Fulham MJ. The importance of brown adipose tissue. N Engl J Med. 2009;361:418.

More Garvan Publications

Staff in the Group