Yaacov Barak, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Research Interest Summary

studies two disparate areas: regulation of placental development and metabolism and the life cycle of fat cells (adipocytes) in health and disease (primarily obesity and type 2 diabetes).

Research Categories

Research Interests

Our group studies two distinct biological systems – the placenta and adipose tissue. In both systems we are employing cutting edge genomic technologies to understand fundamental biological processes and their physiological significance.& In the placenta, we are interested in transcriptional networks that regulate both development and metabolism of the tissue. We are currently investigating:

  1. The role of PPAR and a novel transcription cofactor in regulation of carbohydrate supply to the embryo during late embryonic development.
  2. The impact of a novel network of metabolic enzymes downstream of PPARγ on placental fat metabolism.
  3. The physiological significance of placental glycogen stores. 4. The adverse effects of placenta defects of embryonic heart development.

In adipose tissue, we are currently focusing on a fascinating, hitherto uncharacterized non-apoptotic, non-necrotic mechanism of adipocyte death, and its physiological ramifications on obesity, lipodystrophy (fat degeneration), and diabetes. Our studies of this phenomenon involve state-of-the-art gene manipulation, lineage marking and imaging technologies.

Representative Publications

Barak Y, Nelson MC, Ong ES, Jones YZ, Ruiz-Lozano P, Koder A, Chien KR, Evans RM. 1999. PPARγ is required for placental, cardiac, and adipose tissue development. Mol Cell 4:585-595.

Barak Y, Liao D, He W, Ong ES, Nelson MC, Olefsky JM, Boland R, Evans RM. 2002. Effects of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor δ on placentation, adiposity, and colorectal cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:303-308.

He W*, Barak Y*, Hevener A*, Olson P, Liao D, Le J, Nelson M, Ong E, Olefsky JM, Evans RM (*Co-first authors) 2003. Adipose-specific peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ knockout causes insulin resistance in fat and liver, but not in muscle. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:15712-15717.

Shalom-Barak T, Nicholas JM, Wang Y, Zhang X, Ong ES, Young TH, Gendler SJ, Evans RM, Barak Y. 2004. PPARγ controls Muc1 transcription in trophoblasts. Mol Cell Biol 24:10661-10669.

Barak Y, Kim S. 2007. Genetic manipulations of PPARs: Effects on obesity and metabolic disease. PPAR Res. 2007:12781.

Kim S, Huang L-W, Snow KJ, Ablamunits V, Hasham MG, Young TH, Paulk AC, Richardson JE, Affourtit J, Shalom-Barak T, Bult CJ, Barak Y. 2007. A mouse model of conditional lipodystrophy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:16627-16632.

Barak Y, Sadovsky Y, Shalom-Barak T. 2008. PPAR signaling in placental development and function. PPAR Res. 2008:142082.

Shalom-Barak T, Zhang X, Chu T, Schaiff WT, Reddy JK, Xu J, Sadovsky Y, Barak Y. 2012. Placental PPARγ regulates spatiotemporally diverse genes and a unique metabolic network. Dev Biol. 372:143-155.

Full List of Publications