U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Kong Chen

 Contact Info

Tel: 301-451-1636
Email: chenkong@niddk.nih.gov

 Select Experience

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and SurgeryVanderbilt University1997-2006
  • M.S.Vanderbilt University2002
  • Ph.D.Vanderbilt University1997

 Related Links

  • Biomedical Engineering/Biophysics/Physics
  • Clinical Research
  • Epidemiology/Population Sciences
  • Physiology and Energy Metabolism
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
Research Summary/In Plain Language

Research Summary

Research Goal

Our studies are aimed to improve our understanding of normal human physiology and diseases such as obesity.

Current Research

My laboratory focuses on human energy metabolism as it relates to health and disease.  We have developed advanced techniques such as the whole-room indirect calorimeters (also called respiration or metabolic chambers) that we use to measure the rate of energy expenditure at the minute-by-minute level and substrate oxidation for several hours or for several days.  We can also simultaneously measure movement and physiological parameters in this well-controlled environment to study the impacts of physical activities, diets, medications, and environmental temperatures on energy metabolism, heart rate, and hormonal responses. Currently, we are working to improve our understanding of human dynamic regulation of energy expenditure in response to subtle changes in environmental temperature. In particular, we are interested in studying the capacity of facultative thermogenesis, defined as an increase in energy expenditure (EE or heat production) to a changed environmental temperature. Combined with the ongoing research on brown adipose tissue (BAT), we are also quantifying the different contributions from BAT and muscle in lean and obese individuals.  We are also developing new technologies for measuring body composition and physical activity in humans.​  

Applying our Research

The obesity epidemic has increased the general interests in metabolism and diet. By studying both normal healthy volunteers and patients who are obese or have other metabolic conditions, we can better understand how our metabolism is regulated. This may lead to better treatment and prevention strategies.

Need for Further Study

The metabolic responses to common environmental stimuli, as simple as room temperature, and how individuals are different, are not well understood.