Jay H. Chung, Ph.D., M.D.

Senior Investigator

Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research


Building 10, Room 7D14
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814



Research Topics

Dr. Chung's primary research interest is in understanding how metabolic (mitochondrial) dysfunction affects cellular physiology and leads to disease. Inflammation is at the root of a number of diseases associated with obesity and aging. An important source of ‘metabolic inflammation’ is the mitochondria. One effector of mitochondria-mediated inflammation is mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that is released into the cytosol and/or extra-cellular space, where it can activate the Type-I interferon response and autoimmunity. Dr. Chung’s group identified pores formed by the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) oligomers on oxidatively-stressed mitochondria that promote mitochondrial outer membrane permeability (MOMP) in living cells and allow release of mtDNA. Since VDAC oligomerization is promoted by mitochondrial oxidative stress, VDAC oligomer-mediated MOMP links mitochondrial stress to inflammation. The observation that a VDAC oligomerization inhibitor ameliorates lupus-like disease in mice suggests that VDAC oligomers may be a target for treating other conditions associated with inflammation and autoimmunity.

One strategy for reducing the burden of stressed or damaged mitochondria is removing them via mitophagy, which is promoted under conditions of energy-deficiency, such as restricted feeding. A critical player in the salutary effects of restricted feeding is AMP-activated kinase, an energy sensor that is activated by energy-deficiency and promotes autophagy and mitophagy. Not surprisingly, AMPK is a major player in obesity and aging and as such, regulation of AMPK has been a major focus of Dr. Chung’s group. Along this line, Dr. Chung is developing novel treatment strategies to harness the benefits of restricted feeding without altering food intake by discovering novel small molecule drugs and biologicals.

As an endocrinologist, Dr. Chung has been interested in the “obesity-aging” paradox: an average American gains approximately 30 lbs in weight over 30 years in midlife, even though food intake decreases during this period. The weight gain, which occurs primarily in the abdominal/visceral depot, is an important driver of many chronic diseases of Western society: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Chung’s group is interested in understanding how DNA-PK activity affects the aging-induced decline in metabolism and mitochondrial function and the role it has in chronic diseases associated with obesity and aging.


Jay Chung earned a B.S. in electrical engineering and a B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before receiving a M.D. and Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard Medical School, during which he received the James Tolbert Shipley Prize for Research in 1998. After an internship and residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he became an endocrine fellow at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the NIH where he worked with Gary Felsenfeld. He moved to the NHLBI in 1994 as an Investigator in the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics.

Selected Publications

  1. Kim J, Gupta R, Blanco LP, Yang S, Shteinfer-Kuzmine A, Wang K, Zhu J, Yoon HE, Wang X, Kerkhofs M, Kang H, Brown AL, Park SJ, Xu X, Zandee van Rilland E, Kim MK, Cohen JI, Kaplan MJ, Shoshan-Barmatz V, Chung JH. VDAC oligomers form mitochondrial pores to release mtDNA fragments and promote lupus-like disease. Science. 2019;366(6472):1531-1536.

  2. Park SJ, Ahmad F, Philp A, Baar K, Williams T, Luo H, Ke H, Rehmann H, Taussig R, Brown AL, Kim MK, Beaven MA, Burgin AB, Manganiello V, Chung JH. Resveratrol ameliorates aging-related metabolic phenotypes by inhibiting cAMP phosphodiesterases. Cell. 2012;148(3):421-33.

  3. Kang H, Suh JY, Jung YS, Jung JW, Kim MK, Chung JH. Peptide switch is essential for Sirt1 deacetylase activity. Mol Cell. 2011;44(2):203-13.

  4. Park SJ, Gavrilova O, Brown AL, Soto JE, Bremner S, Kim J, Xu X, Yang S, Um JH, Koch LG, Britton SL, Lieber RL, Philp A, Baar K, Kohama SG, Abel ED, Kim MK, Chung JH. DNA-PK Promotes the Mitochondrial, Metabolic, and Physical Decline that Occurs During Aging. Cell Metab. 2017;25(5):1135-1146.e7.

  5. Kang H, Oka S, Lee DY, Park J, Aponte AM, Jung YS, Bitterman J, Zhai P, He Y, Kooshapur H, Ghirlando R, Tjandra N, Lee SB, Kim MK, Sadoshima J, Chung JH. Sirt1 carboxyl-domain is an ATP-repressible domain that is transferrable to other proteins. Nat Commun. 2017;8:15560.

This page was last updated on March 13th, 2020