A New Laboratory at the Berrie Center
Run by Next Generation of Berrie Center Scientist

Li Qiang, PhD, is young (36), motivated to make an impact and the lead investigator of the latest laboratory at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. He is also part of the next generation of scientist at the Berrie Center (read about Rebecca Haeusler, PhD, Utpal Pajvani, MD, PhD and Dieter Egli, PhD) who are running their own laboratories, studying the problems of metabolic diseases at Columbia University.

Dr. Qiang, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia, is an expert on white adipose tissue, or fat. Human beings have two types of fat: white, which stores energy in the form of triglycerides; and brown fat, which burns energy efficiently.  Newborns have a relative abundance of brown fat as protection against exposure to cold temperature—but not so for the rest of the human population which stores excess energy as unhealthy white adipose.

Dr. Qiang is best known in the world of metabolic science for his 2012 research that documented the mechanism that promotes the “browning” of white adipose tissue. (Journal Cell: Brown Remodeling of White Adipose Tissue by SirT1-Dependent Deacetylation of Ppar-gamma.) While fat can currently be “browned” with a class of insulin sensitizers called thiazolidinediones, or TZDs, their use has been limited because of potent side effects including liver toxicity, severe bone loss, and, ironically, weight gain. But Dr. Qiang’s work is continuing to unlock the physiological mysteries of browning fat.

Dr. Qiang’s research, said his mentor Dr. Domenico Accili, the Russell Berrie Foundation Professor of Diabetes, “has the potential to result in transformative new treatments for diabetes and obesity. His energy and commitment will benefit all of us, and his interests will fill a gap in the Berrie Center research portfolio. He joins the ranks of an incredibly talented group of young investigators who will carry the legacy of the Berrie Center into the next decade.”

To read about Dr. Qiang’s research, click here