About the Phillips Lab

Kevin Phillips, Ph.D. (320x240)
Kevin Phillips, Ph.D.

The Phillips lab focuses on adaptive thermogenesis, a process by which energy (such as caloric excess) is converted to heat, with an eye towards the development of new thermogenic agents.

Currently, we are primarily exploring white adipose ‘beiging’, the conversion of white adipocytes into beige fat cells, brown-like adipocytes found within white fat depots. Unlike white adipocytes, whose primary job is energy storage, beige (and brown) adipocytes possess Ucp1, making them capable of adaptive thermogenesis. When activated, Ucp1-containing cells evoke thermogenesis through uncoupled respiration, the ‘uncoupling’ of cellular metabolism from ATP production, with heat being released instead.

Research Areas

Ongoing research in our group is focused around three major areas:

  • Identifying the physiological effects and pharmacologic potential of thermogenic activation. Can beige fat thermogenesis be harnessed for its anti-diabetic actions, to lower serum lipids, and for weight loss?
  • The mechanistic basis of beige fat thermogenesis. What is the mechanism by which compounds like GC-1 activate thermogenesis and is it distinct from that of other beiging agents, such as β-AR agonists?
  • Can we discover other effectors capable of activating thermogenesis? 3) Performance enhancement in cold environments. Can beige fat thermogenesis be used to increase performance in the cold?