Soonkyu Chung

Associate Professor, Nutrition

B.S., Seoul National University (South Korea), 1992; M.S., Seoul National University (South Korea), 1994; Ph.D., University of North Carolina, 2006; Postdoctoral Fellow, Wake Forest Medical School, 2006-2011

Research Interests

Dr. Chung’s research centers on lipid metabolism and signaling pathways in brown and white adipocytes seeking for metabolic targets to prevent and/or treat obesity and insulin resistance. We aim to investigate the molecular mechanism by which dietary bioactive molecules (e.g., omega-3 fatty acid, tocotrienol, red raspberry polyphenols and there gut metabolites) suppress adipose tissue inflammation and promote brown thermogenesis. The ultimate goal is to establish safe and effective dietary intervention strategies to attenuate the prevalence of obesity and its pathogenic progression to type 2 diabetes.

The major on-going research projects in Dr. Chung’s lab. 

1) Identification of iron regulatory network that promotes brown adipocyte formation

2) Mechanisms by which maternal n-3 PUFA intake regulates fetal brown fat development and metabolic imprinting

3) Role of gut metabolites derived from red raspberry polyphenols in regulating obesity and insulin resistance

4) Nutritional intervention strategy to attenuate cancer cachexia by inhibiting activin A-mediated lipodystrophy.


PubMed Search Link

Key Publications: 

Toney A, Fan R, Xian Y, Chaidez V, Ramer-Tait AE, and Chung S. 2019. Urolithin A, a gut metabolite of ellagic acid, improves insulin sensitivity through augmentation of mitochondrial function and biogenesis. Obesity. 27:612-620

Fan R, Toney AM, Jang Y, Ro S, and Chung S. 2018. Maternal n-3 PUFA supplementation promotes fetal brown adipose tissue development through epigenetic modifications in C57BL/6 mice. Biochemi Biophys Acta-Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. 1863:1488-1497.

Kim Y, Natarajan SK, and Chung S. 2018. Gamma-tocotrienol attenuates the hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in the mouse models of nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases. Mol Nutr Food Res. 62: e1899519

Kim J, Okla M, Erickson A, Carr T, Nartarajan SK, and Chung S. 2016. EPA potentiates brown thermogenesis through FFAR4-dependent upregulation of miR-30b and miR-378. J of Biol. Chem. 291:20551-62.

Okla M, Kim J, Koehler K, and Chung S. 2017. Dietary factors promoting brown and beige fat development and thermogenesis. Adv in Nutr, 8:473-83. Featured as the cover image for 2017 May issue