Lee Lab

Understanding the Biology of Adipocytes

Recent News

Mara Leyendecker (D.O student) and Jun Huang (PhD Student) Join the Lab

September 01, 2018

Welcome Mara and Jun!

Paper on Growth Hormone

May 30, 2018

Our paper on the regulation of lipolysis by Growth Hormone has been published in Journal of Endocrinology

Happy Graduation Mitchell and Lauren! Mitchell will start as a graduate student at the University of Toledo, and Lauren as a medical student at Ohio State University

May 30, 2018

Katherine Schott Joins the Lab

February 28, 2018

Welcome Katherine!

Brian receives a fellowship from the American Diabetes Association

January 05, 2018

Brian receives the Minority Undergraduate Fellowship from the ADA.  Congratulations Brian!

Jason and Mitchell both receive John J. Kopchick Fellowships

November 10, 2017

Jason and Mitchell were both awarded John J. Kopchick Fellowships to support their work in the lab!  This award will allow Jason to travel to the Helmholtz Diabetes Center in Munich, Germany to learn state of the art clearing techniques to image adipose tissue.  Great job, guys!

Brian Harper and Andrew Colborn Join Lab

October 15, 2017

Brian Harper and Andrew Colborn just joined the Lee lab.  Welcome Brian and Andrew!

Brian Harper and Andrew Colborn Join Lab

October 15, 2017

Brian Harper and Andrew Colborn just joined the Lee lab.  Welcome Brian and Andrew!

Lauren Guest Joins the Lab

July 26, 2017

Lauren joins the lab after competing the S.U.R.F program over the summer!   Welcome Lauren!

Jason presents "Lineage Tracing Analysis of Wilms' Tumor 1 Derived Adipocytes"

April 07, 2017

Jason’s presentation, “Lineage Tracing Analysis of Wilms’ Tumor 1 Derived Adipocytes”, received first prize at the Ohio University EXPO.

Jason's work showcased at the American Diabetes Association meeting

March 01, 2017

At the American Diabetes Association (ADA) meeting this June in San Diego, both of Jason’s studies “Growth Hormone Regulation of G0S2 and FSP27: Mechanism for Growth Hormone–Mediated Lipolysis” and “Characterizing the Wilms Tumor 1 (Wt1) Adipose Subpopulation” will be showcased in Moderated Poster Discussions. Good job, Jason!

Lee Lab receives American Diabetes Association Grant

January 20, 2017

Kevin just received the Junior Faculty Development award from the American Diabetes Association on his project, “Differential Effects of Obesity and Inflammatory Cytokines on White Adipocyte Subpopulations”. This competitive and prestigious award is a four year award.

Lee Lab receives NIH funding

September 15, 2016

Kevin received a three year R15 (AREA) award from the National Institutes of Health on his project, “Differential Effects of Obesity and Inflammatory Cytokines on White Adipocyte Subpopulations”.

Our Projects

Obesity, defined by the accumulation of excess body fat, is dramatically increasing worldwide and is driving an epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Adipose tissue and obesity are more complex than previously believed, and recent studies have shown adipose tissue is comprised of developmentally and functionally distinct subpopulations of adipocytes. To investigate this cellular heterogeneity, our lab has developed novel cellular and mouse to identify and study subpopulations of white adipocytes both in vitro and in vivo. These studies have uncovered three distinct subpopulations of white adipocytes. 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. 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.

Selected Publications

Growth hormone controls lipolysis by regulation of FSP27 expression. Rita Sharma*, Quyen Luong*, Vishva M Sharma*, Mitchell Harberson, Brian Harper, Andrew Colborn, Darlene E Berryman, Niels Jessen, Jens Otto Lunde Jørgensen, John J Kopchick, Vishwajeet Puri, and Kevin Y Lee. Journal of Endocrinology(2018) 239, 289–301.

Developmental And Functional Heterogeneity Of White Adipocytes Within A Single Fat Depot. Lee KY, Luong Q, Sharma R, Dreyfuss JM, Ussar S, Kahn CR. EMBO J. 2018 Dec 10. pii: e99291. doi: 10.15252/embj.201899291.

Lee KY, Sharma R, Gase G, Ussar S, Li Y, Welch L, Berryman DE, Kispert A, Bluher M, Kahn CR.  Diabetes. 2017 Nov;66(11):2822-2829. doi: 10.2337/db17-0218. Epub 2017 Aug 28.

Tbx15 controls skeletal muscle fibre-type determination and muscle metabolism. Lee KY, Singh MK, Ussar S, Wetzel P, Hirshman MF, Goodyear LJ, Kispert A, Kahn CR. Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 24;6:8054. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9054. PMID: 26299309

ASC-1, PAT2, and P2RX5 are cell surface markers for white, beige, and brown adipocytes. Ussar S, Lee KY, Dankel SN, Boucher J, Haering MF, Kleinridders A, Thomou T, Xue R, Macotela Y, Cypess AM, Tseng YH, Mellgren G, Kahn CR. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Jul 30;6(247):247ra103. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008490. PMID: 25080478

Shox2 is a molecular determinant of depot-specific adipocyte function. Lee KY, Yamamoto Y, Boucher J, Winnay JN, Gesta S, Cobb J, Blüher M, Kahn CR. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jul 9;110(28):11409-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1310331110. PMID: 23798383

Lessons on conditional gene targeting in mouse adipose tissue. Lee KY, Russell SJ, Ussar S, Boucher J, Vernochet C, Mori MA, Smyth G, Rourk M, Cederquist C, Rosen ED, Kahn BB, Kahn CR. Diabetes. 2013 Mar;62(3):864-74. doi: 10.2337/db12-1089. PMID: 23321074

The differential role of Hif1β/Arnt and the hypoxic response in adipose function, fibrosis, and inflammation. Lee KY, Gesta S, Boucher J, Wang XL, Kahn CR. Cell Metab. 2011 Oct 5;14(4):491-503. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.08.006. PMID: 21982709

Our lab seeks to uncover molecular and functional differences between morphologically indistinguishable fat cells.

Our Members

Dr. Kevin Lee

Dr. Kevin Lee

Principle Investigator

Dr. Rita Sharma

Dr. Rita Sharma

Senior Research Coordinator

Quyen (Jason) Luong

Quyen (Jason) Luong

D.O./Ph.D Candidate

Jun Huang

Jun Huang

PhD Graduate Student

Andrew Colborn

Andrew Colborn


Brian Harper

Brian Harper


Katherine Schott

Katherine Schott

Mara Leyendecker

Mara Leyendecker

D.O. Student

Our Past Members

Lauren Guest

Undergraduate - 2017-2018

Currently, MD student at Ohio State University

Mitchell Harberson

Undergraduate - 2016-2018

Currently, PhD student at University of Toledo

Join the Lee Lab

The Lee Lab is actively seeking graduate students. Prospective graduate students should directly contact Dr. Kevin Lee and apply either through the Biological Sciences (M.S./Ph.D.) or the Molecular Cellular Biology (Ph.D.) programs.

The Lee Lab is also seeking the dedicated undergraduate students. Prospective undergraduate research assistants (RA), will 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. See details below.

Duties of undergraduate research assistants

Commit approximately 8-10 hours per week on a flexible basis to work in the lab. RA’s typically work in concert with Dr. Lee, Dr. Sharma and other members of the laboratory in the laboratory. Each RA is assigned to one project, usually based on their expressed preference after hearing about the current projects. RA’s are trained on how to use the equipment, run the experiments, and analyze the data. They are expected to read the current literature related to their project and participate in weekly lab meetings. Students who have completed some course work in biology and physiology are given preference. Familiarity with PC-based computers is a plus. Research assistant positions will begin as experience-gaining volunteer opportunities, with the possibility of moving into a paid or for-credit arrangement. RAs are also encouraged to complete their honor’s thesis in the lab. Given the amount of training involved, we prefer students who anticipate being able to work in the lab for at least one full year.