University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Soonkyu Chung

Soonkyu Chung
Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition


School or College: 

School of Public Health & Health Sciences


Dr. Soonkyu Chung, Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, acquired her Ph.D. in Molecular Nutrition in 2006 at the U. of North Carolina and received a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wake Forest Medical Center. Dr. Chung is an adipocyte biologist, and her research interest centers on regulating lipid metabolism, signaling pathways in adipocytes, and preventing obesity. Her current projects examine the role of dietary factors in modulating adiposity, innate immunity, and brown thermogenesis toward preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Chung has been at the forefront of identifying the role of adipose tissue iron status in regulating metabolic homeostasis and brown thermogenesis. As a key component of her brown fat research, she also has a long-standing interest in developing transplantable-brown fat pads for humans as a therapeutic tool to treat type 2 diabetes. More recently, Chung's lab unveiled the novel signaling interaction between dietary fish oil consumption and heat therapy for metabolic improvement.

Research Proposal Title: 

Establishment of Heat Treatment as a Therapeutic intervention Strategy to Promote Metabolic Health against Aging and Menopause


Menopause is accompanied by a rapid slowdown of metabolism, resulting in an increased risk of obesity and its associated metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Hyperthermia therapy, like saunas or hot baths, has long been used to relieve pain and attenuate the risk of metabolic diseases in older adults. However, the scientific evidence on the benefits of hyperthermia therapy has yet to be clearly elucidated. Our preliminary work revealed that hyperthermia treatment significantly reduced diet-induced obesity by increasing energy expenditure in ‘old’-female mice. This proposal aims to investigate the underlying mechanism of hyperthermia and the extent to which it mitigates metabolic slowdown using a rodent model of menopause, which can ultimately be applied to menopausal women.