skip to main content


BIOE Seminar - The Extracellular Niche Modulates Adipose Differentiation and Function

Speaker Dr. Eric Brey, Peter Flawn Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio
Date: 9/18/2019
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: 2310 Everitt Lab
Sponsor: Department of Bioenginerring
Event Type: Seminar/Symposium


Adipose tissue plays a fundamental role in systemic metabolism. Aberrant adipose tissue function contributes to excess morbidity and mortality, with obesity alone generating a greater than $190 billion burden annually on the American healthcare system. The negative effects of obesity may outweigh the positive effects of smoking cessation on the overall health of the US population. There has been significant investment in the design of therapeutics that seek to transform adipose tissue function. However, the limited understanding of the environmental factors that regulated adipose tissue function have hindered progress in the field.


The fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering enable control over the local cell environment that can be used to gain insight into how the extracellular niche modulates cell function. Recently, we have used these tools to examine how the extracellular microenvironment regulates adipocyte biology and systemic energy expenditure. Specifically, we found that knockout of a specific ECM chain (laminin a4) are resistant to obesity and exhibit increased beiging of subcutaneous adipose tissue, increased energy expenditure, and enhanced insulin sensitivity. In addition, we found that adipose ECM has a distinct advantage over non-adipose ECM for modulating adipose formation and that in a 3D culture environment expression of beige adipocyte markers depends on substrate mechanical properties. Overall, our evidence indicates that the extracellular microenvironment mediates the function and differentiation of adipose tissues.



Eric Brey is Peter Flawn Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Previously, he was Duchossois Leadership Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He received B.S. and MEng degrees from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University. Following his Ph.D. he was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellowship for post-doctoral studies in the Departments of Surgery and Cell Biology at Loyola University Medical Center.


He has made significant contributions to the fields of tissue engineering and biomaterials. Specifically, he has contributed to new methods for engineering vascularized tissues and is a leader in evaluating new imaging methods for analysis of engineered tissues. Professor Brey’s research has resulted in over 120 peer-reviewed publications, 9 book chapters, 50 invited talks, and ~ $15 million in external funding. Professor Brey is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers. He was awarded the 2015 Educational Award from TERMIS, a Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Applied Cardiovascular Biology, a Sigma Xi Award for Excellence in Research and a visiting professorship at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. He was editor of a book entitled “Vascularization: Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering”.


Professor Brey has also made significant contributions to engineering education. His educational research involves the development of innovative outreach programs for broadening engagement in biomedical engineering, tiered mentoring programs and building ethical cultures in research. He has received continuous funding from the National Science Foundation for undergraduate research programs for 15 years and received support to send both graduate and undergraduate students abroad for research experiences. His education activities have resulted in multiple presentations, 11 papers and over 1.7 million dollars in external support. Currently, he is collaborating on an NSF-funded engineering ethics project in which graduate students develop department-specific ethical guidelines.

To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact the person listed above, or the unit hosting the event.