Lab News

9/6/22: Brooks gives an oral presentation at a Keystone tumor immunometabolism meeting

Brooks did an excellent job speaking to a full room of experts in tumor immunometabolism at the Keystone Immunometabolism at the Crossroads of Obesity and Cancer meeting. A densely packed 10 min talk at 11,000 feet elevation is no small feat, and Brooks pulled it off beautifully!

8/22/22: Welcome Sita!

We’re pleased to welcome Sita Kottilil as the newest Perry lab member! Sita is a sophomore at Yale who is interested in biomedical research. She will be working with Ngozi on a project aiming to understand the mechanisms of how exercise improves prognosis in breast cancer, and examining whether exercise may be a useful adjuvant to the recently-approved immunotherapy for breast cancer patients.

8/8/22: Welcome Susana!

It’s a delight to welcome Susana Nakandakari to the lab! Susana is a PhD student in Brazil who will be joining the Perry and Wang labs for the next year. She is interested in metabolism and sepsis, and will join our mouse infusion team. Glad to have you onboard, Susana!

8/4/22: Briana’s summer in our lab has flown by!

We are sad to say goodbye (for now) to Briana, but congratulate her on the wonderful job she did this summer! We appreciate the great job she did working on fatty acid oxidation in melanoma cells, as well as helping Xinyi with behavioral tests in mice. It was a pleasure to have you, Briana!

7/18/22: The Perry lab welcomes visitors from the Yale Pathways to Science program

Briana, Xinyi, and Rachel enjoyed welcoming local high school students to the Perry lab today for a session focused on exercise physiology! Students had a chance to try three tests with the mice (hands-off, following all the rules): swim test, grip strength test, and maximal speed test. We developed hypotheses as to who would perform better and worse, and tested them. Most were correct (unlike the majority of scientific experiments). By the end, students were cheering on the mice! It was a joy to have the students in the lab, and we hope to do this again.

7/17/22: Stephan’s commentary is published in Diabetes Practice Update

Stephan’s commentary on SGLT2 inhibitors for patients with type 1 diabetes came out today in Diabetes Practice Update. The commentary can be found here. Nice job!

6/10/22: Introducing Dr. Leitner!

Congratulations, Dr. Leitner! Brooks is the first student to earn their PhD from the Perry lab, and it was a tour de force. His thesis, titled “Translational Systems Metabolism in Health and Disease,” received rave reviews from his committee and from the audience. Brooks is now back to his clinical rotations to complete his MD, and at the same time finishing up two more papers in the Perry lab!

Perry lab members, plus outside reader Dr. Joanne Kelleher (center)

6/6/22: Briana joins the lab

Welcome to Briana Robles, a student at the University of Florida who will be joining us for the summer through the Yale BioMed Amgen Scholars program! Briana will be mentored by Xinyi Zhang on a project related to fatty acid metabolism and melanoma.

6/5/22: Zongyu’s first conference poster presentation

Zongyu presented his first conference poster today at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (an international meeting). You can review his abstract here!

5/31/22: Dennis joins the lab

Welcome Dennis! He is a recent graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, and will be joining us to perform some remote data analysis in projects related to metabolism and cancer. One of these is a review on exercise and cancer, in collaboration with Ngozi, Ryan, and Rachel.

5/25/22: Ryan awarded a dkNET Summer of Data award

Wow! Our off-site high school lab member, Ryan, has just been awarded a dkNET Summer of Data award! This program supports high school and college students performing diabetes-related research affiliated with labs throughout the country. Way to go, Ryan!

5/20/22: Ngozi’s paper on dapa and chemotherapy published

Ngozi recently reported a precision medicine approach to metabolic therapy for breast cancer using an SGLT2 inhibitor! We are eager to translate this to humans, and are in discussions with Astra Zeneca and with Dr. Maryam Lustburg about a clinical trial to follow up on Ngozi’s data.

Figure: Akingbesote et al. Comms. Biol. 2022.

4/26/22: Alex wins the Boell Prize

Wow! Alex has just earned the Boell Prize, awarded annually to the top graduating senior in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She conducted her senior research in the Perry lab, where she was expertly mentored by Xinyi.

3/28/22: Ngozi is a PhD candidate

Congratulations to Ngozi on passing her PhD qualifying exam by a wide margin! Her committee was impressed by her cogent plan for her PhD research and training, centered around her studies in breast cancer immunometabolism and exercise.

3/18/22: Insulin & cancer review published

Leitner, Siebel, Akingbesote, Zhang, & Perry, Biochem. J. 2022

Congratulations to Brooks, Stephan, Ngozi, and Xinyi! Our review, “Insulin and cancer: a tangled web” was just published by Biochemical Journal. This was our first “team review,” and it was a fun experience overall. Thanks to the whole team for their contributions!

3/5/22: Ngozi selected for a GEM summer internship

Ngozi has been awarded a well-deserved summer internship through the GEM program. She will be conducting research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, studying new ways to target new therapies to cancer cells.

2/18/22: Kyle’s paper published

Congratulations to Kyle! His paper, with Brooks’ support, was published today in Physiological Reports. Over the summer, Kyle optimized a method to measure tissue glycogen content using a simple, inexpensive method. You can check it out here, and please feel free to contact us if you would like an even more detailed protocol.

2/14/22: Welcome Ryan!

We are delighted to welcome Ryan to work with us remotely from his home in Texas. Rachel was really impressed by Ryan’s initiative in contacting her and becoming part of the lab! Ryan will be working with us on data analysis related to obesity and cancer.

1/27/22: Brooks’ npj Precision Oncology paper published

Leitner et al. npj Precision Oncology 2022

Congratulations to Brooks and the rest of our team on the publication of their new paper in npj Precision Oncology. In this work, we utilize a multi-omics approach to identify new features of the relationships between body weight, tumor genomics, and tumor metabolism. This work was completed thanks to Brooks’ ability to quickly pivot to in silico work during an era of supply chain issues and limited funding in the lab. Well done!

12/21/21: News of a JDRF award

We have received the good news of an Innovative Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, supporting our work aiming to identify a new hypoglycemia counterregulatory factor! This work will be conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Andrew Wang, co-PI of the award.

12/3/21: First Perry lab R01 funded – and upgraded!

Rachel is humbled and grateful to announce that our first R01, titled “Defining the Role of Renal Gluconeogenesis in Renal Cell Carcinoma,” has been selected for funding by the NIH (NCI)! The publicly available abstract reads as follows:

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common primary kidney cancer, representing 90-95% of primary renal neoplasms. Obesity and diabetes are associated with an increased risk of renal cell carcinoma, but the mechanisms by which systemic metabolic changes promote tumor progression are unknown. Although its reputation as a glucose-producing organ has been dwarfed by that of the liver over the years, the kidney possesses the same complement of gluconeogenic enzymes as the liver – with a higher concentration of gluconeogenic proteins per gram of tissue in the kidney, suggesting that its gluconeogenic capacity may even exceed the liver’s. Glucose is well-known to be a crucial substrate for tumor growth; given the gluconeogenic activity of the kidney, it is likely that increased renal gluconeogenesis may fuel tumor growth. However, this phenomenon, and its mechanistic explanation, remains to be explored. We have recently found that fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF-21) promotes renal gluconeogenesis during starvation by activating intrarenal lipolysis through a b2-adrenergic pathway, thereby activating pyruvate carboxylase flux in healthy rodents. Therefore, this proposal will test the Overarching Hypothesis that in renal cell carcinoma, increased FGF-21 acts through a similar mechanism to promote intrarenal lipolysis, pyruvate carboxylase activity, and as a result, gluconeogenesis, and that this increased renal glucose supply fuels tumor growth. We will also examine the utility of an FGF-21 neutralizing antibody against mice genetically prone to renal cell carcinoma, which we anticipate will reduce renal gluconeogenesis and renal cell carcinoma progression. If the hypotheses are confirmed, these data would identify FGF-21 – which is already being targeted in advanced clinical trials for metabolism- and diabetes-related indications – as a potential therapeutic target in renal cell carcinoma.

This project will be conducted collaboratively with Drs. Adewobale Adeniran and Andrew Wang.

It was extra exciting to learn that the grant is eligible for conversion from a 5-year R01 to a 7-year R37 MERIT (Method to Extent Research In Time) award! We are committed to doing the most we can with this award to make discoveries in mice that may predict how metabolism can be targeted to improve outcomes for patients with renal cell carcinoma.

Important note: Although this is our first funded R01, it is *far* from the first NIH grant Rachel has submitted. For anyone wanting to commiserate about the ups and downs of the grant writing process, feel free to contact her!

11/5/21: Brooks receives a travel award to the Keystone tumor immunometabolism meeting

Based on his excellent abstract, Brooks was selected to receive a travel award to the Keystone Tumor Immunometabolism meeting in Banff in January 2022. Congratulations!

Airplane figure from

11/1/21: Rachel gives a keynote talk on cancer metabolism

Rachel had the honor of giving the keynote address at the City of Hope Diabetes and Cancer meeting, joining an excellent group of speakers in the world of metabolism and cancer. It’s too bad it had to be on Zoom this time, but hopefully in the near future we can come together again.

8/5/21: Kyle finishes a publishable project in 8 weeks

Kyle has completed an amazing summer of work, during which he undertook an almost completely independent project, with logistical support from Brooks, optimizing a method to quantify tissue glycogen. We will miss you, Kyle!

7/8/21: Congratulations Dr. Dr. Dr. Siebel!

Congratulations to Stephan, who has just defended his second PhD, in the Kibbey lab and through the Investigative Medicine program. Dr. Siebel’s work focused on the development and validation of new stable isotope tracer methodology to assess liver fluxes. Stayed tuned for his paper to come out soon in a journal near you!

6/23/21: Ngozi is selected for the Cancer Biology Training Program

The Yale Cancer Biology Training Program provides comprehensive training across basic biology, epidemiology, and clinical research and care to pre- and post-doctoral trainees. As you can imagine from its description, this is a very popular program with a competitive application process. We are thrilled that Ngozi has been selected to participate! Her clinical mentor will be Dr. Maryam Lustberg, Director of Breast Medical Oncology at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

6/7/21: Welcoming Kyle to the lab

We are delighted to welcome Kyle Schaubroeck to the Perry lab. Kyle is at Yale for the summer as a BioMed Amgen Scholar. A recent college graduate, he will be heading to the University of Wisconsin for his PhD in the fall. We are glad that Kyle has decided to make a detour to New Haven in between!

6/3/21: Xinyi is a PhD candidate!

Although there was no doubt about the outcome beforehand, many congratulations to Xinyi, who passed her qualifying exam! Her project focuses on mitochondrial uncoupling as an adjuvant to melanoma treatment (immunotherapy) in mice. Xinyi is now a PhD candidate in Cellular & Molecular Physiology!

4/23/21: Rachel is recognized as a NYAS Rising Star of Cancer Metabolism and Signaling

Rachel was delighted to participate in a NYAS webinar featuring young investigators selected as rising stars in cancer metabolism!

4/21/21: Rachel receives a Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award

We’re excited to share that Rachel has been selected for a Young Investigator Award from the Melanoma Research Alliance. This project will investigate how a mitochondrial uncoupler may be of utility to treat melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Dr. Marcus Bosenberg, of Yale Dermatology, Pathology, and Immunobiology, has generously agreed to participate in this project as well.

2/24/21: Ngozi joins the lab

We are delighted to welcome Ngozi Akingbesote, who has joined our lab as a first year PhD student!

11/12/20: First Perry lab oral abstract presentation

Congratulations to Brooks, who gave an excellent oral abstract presentation from the Perry lab today at the Integrative Physiology of Exercise meeting via Zoom. He’s set the bar high for oral presentations from the lab, and we look forward to more to come (hopefully not all on zoom)!

10/26/20: Chigoziri’s review in press

Congratulations to Chigoziri! His review, “Imeglimin – Current Development and Future Potential in Type 2 Diabetes,” was accepted for publication today. Check it out here!

Figure ref: Konkwo & Perry, Drugs 2020.

9/25/20: Happy birthday!

A socially distanced happy birthday (two days apart) to Zongyu and Brooks!

9/20: Lab moves to SHM

The Perry lab has quadrupled in physical space this month, moving from TAC to SHM. Thanks to all lab members for their work cleaning and organizing our new home!



8/17/20: Andin’s review in press

Congratulations to Andin, whose review, “Current Mechanisms in Obesity and Tumor Progression,” has just been published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. Check it out here (please email Rachel if you would like the full text).

7/1/20: Welcome Chigoziri, Brooks, Andin, Xinyi, and Stephan

The Perry lab is delighted to welcome five new members:

Chigoziri Konkwo, a rising 2nd year med student, is performing a virtual rotation analyzing tumor transcriptomic data and correlating these data to obesity.

Brooks Leitner, a rising 3rd year MD/PhD student, has joined the lab to pursue a project on exercise and cancer.

Andin Fosam, a rising 1st year MD/PhD student, is performing a virtual rotation aiming to understand why obesity is protective in lung cancer, in contrast to many other tumor types.

Xinyi Zhang, a rising 2nd year PhD student, has chosen to join the lab for her doctoral work despite only having the opportunity to do a virtual rotation during a very strange time! She will focus on metabolic therapy for melanoma.

Stephan Siebel, MD, PD, is an Instructor and expert in tracer methodology/mass spec joining the lab to perform stable isotope studies to understand obesity/cancer pathogenesis.

5/8/20: Zongyu has successfully qualified

Congratulations to Zongyu for passing his qualifying exam (via zoom) with flying colors! His committee were all impressed by his qualifying proposal exploring a novel factor in hypoglycemia counterregulation and his responses to their many questions.

2/3/20: Paper in press

Congratulations to Brooks on his paper in press at JNCI Cancer Spectrum: “The Impact of Obesity on Tumor Glucose Uptake in Breast and Lung Cancer.” This work, analyzing human PET-CT scans to correlate tumor glucose uptake to body mass index, was done over his five-week rotation in the lab (!) and demonstrates that previous findings from the lab – that tumor glucose uptake/oxidation are increased by obesity-associated hyperinsulinemia – may translate to humans. You can read the paper here.

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