Dr Lee Roberts is a Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellow and a 250 Great Minds University Academic Fellow at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Leeds, UK. His research focusses on metabolism, the phenotypes and mechanisms of metabolic disease, and the role metabolites play in the homeostatic regulation of adipose tissue. He has a particular interest in beige and brown adipose tissue, the initiation of the thermogenic response and regulation of fatty acid oxidation in fat tissue, and small molecule inter-organ cross-talk. His research aims to uncover novel treatments for the twin global epidemics of type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity.
As an undergraduate he studied Biochemistry at the University of Bristol UK gaining a BSc with First Class Honours. While studying for his first degree he spent a year working as an Industrial Placement Student with GlaxoSmithKline. During this year he conducted research aimed at identifying novel blood protein markers of hepatotoxicity using mass spectrometry.
Lee went on to gain a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and a Collaborative Award in Science and Engineering (GlaxoSmithKline) funded PhD in the laboratory of Dr Julian Griffin in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, where he was also a member of King’s College. His PhD research examined the use of metabolic profiling to address aspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia with a focus on Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors δ and γ. This research better characterised the PPARs as master regulators of metabolism and emphasised PPARδ as a potential therapeutic target for type 2 diabetes and obesity, metabolic diseases of world-wide importance.
Following completion of his PhD he was awarded the Leducq Foundation Career Development Award to conduct post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr Robert Gerszten at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. This opportunity facilitated Lee’s move towards translational research, where basic science and human clinical studies are combined within research programs. His research whilst at Harvard Medical School examined the phenomenon of increased resting energy expenditure following long-term periods of exercise. Specifically he investigated the transcriptional co-activator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 α (PGC-1α) mediated adaptive response to exercise in skeletal muscle in mice and humans, and how this signals to white adipose tissue to increase energy consumption through the thermogenic response.
Prior to his appointment in Leeds, Dr Roberts was the Elsie Widdowson Fellow at the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research Unit and a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, at the University of Cambridge, UK.