Biochemistry Laboratory


Director:  Jacquelyn Pence, PhD

Research Focus

Within the Biochemistry Laboratory, faculty conduct cutting-edge research in muscle physiology, nutrition and the gut microbiome, immunometabolism and cellular metabolism. Investigations focus on a variety of diseases and conditions, including cancer, obesity, fatty liver disease, aging, COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease among others. Our research activities are funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and various foundations and private companies. 

While our research covers a broad spectrum of questions relevant to human health, common themes of our programs are the roles of inflammation and metabolism in contributing to human disease, and the ways in which health behavioral interventions such as diet/nutrition and exercise can be used to prevent and treat these diseases and conditions. Our researchers use human subjects, experimental animals and isolated cells to address these questions in contexts ranging from the molecular to the organismal level.

The lab constitutes more than 1,700 square feet, housing a range of state-of-the-art equipment. Cellular analysis is conducted using an 8-color flow cytometer and a cellular impedance analyzer, allowing us to profile cellular phenotype, protein expression, migration, cell cycle and growth kinetics, cytotoxicity and organelle function using single cell and real-time methods. The lab also contains a Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer for the real-time measurement of metabolic function and metabolic reprogramming in isolated cells, and an automated inverted microscope with an incubating stage chamber permitting brightfield and fluorescence imaging of tissue sections, fixed cells and live cells.

The lab also houses facilities for cell culture, including multiple biosafety cabinets and CO2 incubators permitting work with transformed cell lines and with primary cells isolated from human volunteers and experimental animals. Two large bench lab spaces contain all necessary equipment for conducting biochemical assays, clinical chemistry and hematology analysis, and sample processing for a variety of other applications conducted within the laboratory, the Molecular Biology Laboratory and several other collaborating labs on campus and across the U.S.