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Dr Andrew Whittle

+44 (0)1223 336786


My research focus is brown adipose tissue (BAT). Unlike traditional “white” adipose tissue, which stores energy as triglycerides, BAT is highly metabolically active. It exists to help maintain body temperature in response to cold environments. As such BAT can oxidise large amounts of fat and dissipate the energy as heat in a process termed thermogenesis. This makes activating BAT an attractive strategy for treating obesity and its related metabolic illnesses.


I study the molecular mechanisms that control the activity of brown fat tissue in response to changing physiological conditions. At the same time I am interested in how the activity of BAT is controlled by the brain, via the complex integration of information about temperature and nutrition.


Through improved understanding of the central and peripheral mechanisms that regulate thermogenesis I hope to identify new therapeutic targets that might help to reduce body weight and improve cardiovascular and metabolic health in overweight individuals.




1. Whittle, A.J., Carobbio, S., Martins, L., Slawik, M., Hondares, E., Vazquez, M.J., Morgan, D., Csikasz, R.I., Gallego, R., Rodriguez-Cuenca, S. et al. (2012). BMP8B Increases Brown Adipose Tissue Thermogenesis through Both Central and Peripheral Actions. Cell 149, 871-885. Abstract. (Faculty of 1000).


2. Martinez de Morentin, P.B., Whittle, A.J., Ferno, J., Nogueiras, R., Dieguez, C., Vidal-Puig, A. and Lopez, M. (2012). Nicotine induces negative energy balance through hypothalamic AMP-activated protein kinase. Diabetes 61, 807-817. Abstract.


3. Whittle, A.J. and Vidal-Puig, A. (2012). NPs – heart hormones that regulate brown fat? J Clin Invest 122, 804-807. Abstract.


4. Whittle, A.J. and Vidal-Puig, A. (2011). Physiology: Immune cells fuel the fire. Nature 480:46-47.


5. Whittle, A.J., Lopez, M., and Vidal-Puig, A. (2011). Using brown adipose tissue to treat obesity – the central issue. Trends Mol Med 17, 405-411. Abstract.


Funding Acknowledgements:


European Commission FP7 “BetaBAT”

BBSRC project grant BB/J009865/1