Kong Yin Chen, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Metabolic Clinical Research Unit, Cores & Support Services


Building NIHBC 10 - CRC, Room 5-5752
10 Center Dr
Bethesda, MD 20892

+1 301 451 1636


Research Topics

The purpose of our research is to understand how human energy metabolism and physical activity are regulated, and how they impact 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, my laboratory focuses on the cold-induced thermogenesis, brown adipose tissue, muscle and autonomic nervous system activities, and body and skin temperature in response to subtle changes in environmental temperature in different populations. Another area of interest is the effect of pharmacological and dietary interventions on human energy metabolism and obesity. We are also developing new technologies for measuring energy metabolism, body composition, sleep, and physical activity in humans.

Applying our Research

The obesity epidemic has increased the general interests in metabolism, physical activity, sleep, and diet. By studying both normal healthy volunteers, subjects who have obesity, and patients who have metabolic conditions, we can better understand how energy balance is regulated. This may lead to better treatment and prevention strategies.

Need for Further Study

The dynamic responses of energy metabolism under different stimuli are not well understood.


  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Surgery, Vanderbilt University, 1997-2006
  • M.S., Vanderbilt University, 2002
  • Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, 1997

Selected Publications

  1. Brychta RJ, Huang S, Wang J, Leitner BP, Hattenbach JD, Bell SL, Fletcher LA, Perron Wood R, Idelson CR, Duckworth CJ, McGehee S, Courville AB, Bernstein SB, Reitman ML, Cypess AM, Chen KY. Quantification of the Capacity for Cold-Induced Thermogenesis in Young Men With and Without Obesity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019;104(10):4865-4878.
  2. Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Abdul Sater Z, Cassimatis TM, Cero C, Fletcher LA, Israni NS, Johnson JW, Lea HJ, Linderman JD, O'Mara AE, Zhu KY, Cypess AM. Opportunities and challenges in the therapeutic activation of human energy expenditure and thermogenesis to manage obesity. J Biol Chem. 2020;295(7):1926-1942.
  3. Leitner BP, Huang S, Brychta RJ, Duckworth CJ, Baskin AS, McGehee S, Tal I, Dieckmann W, Gupta G, Kolodny GM, Pacak K, Herscovitch P, Cypess AM, Chen KY. Mapping of human brown adipose tissue in lean and obese young men. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017;114(32):8649-8654.
  4. Chen KY, Cypess AM, Laughlin MR, Haft CR, Hu HH, Bredella MA, Enerbäck S, Kinahan PE, Lichtenbelt Wv, Lin FI, Sunderland JJ, Virtanen KA, Wahl RL. Brown Adipose Reporting Criteria in Imaging STudies (BARCIST 1.0): Recommendations for Standardized FDG-PET/CT Experiments in Humans. Cell Metab. 2016;24(2):210-22.
  5. Chen KY, Smith S, Ravussin E, Krakoff J, Plasqui G, Tanaka S, Murgatroyd P, Brychta R, Bock C, Carnero E, Schoffelen P, Hatamoto Y, Rynders C, Melanson EL. Room Indirect Calorimetry Operating and Reporting Standards (RICORS 1.0): A Guide to Conducting and Reporting Human Whole-Room Calorimeter Studies. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020;28(9):1613-1625.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, January 10, 2024