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Brian Bennett

Research Leader


Phone: (530) 754-4417                                                                                                                430 West Health Sciences 
Drive Davis, CA 95616

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Brian Bennett, Ph.D, an emerging scientist in nutrigenomics, joined the WHNRC in 2016 as The Research Leader for the Obesity and Metabolism Unit.  Prior to joining the WHNRC, Brian was an assistant professor of Genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Dr. Bennett, with his passion to help prevent heart disease, researches the role of the human diet and nutrition as it relates to heart disease. He explores genetic components of chronic metabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity, through integrative genetic studies, also called “systems genetics.” Dr. Bennett’s studies examine the relationship among many types of data such as genetic variants, gene expression levels and metabolite levels and how these interact to increase susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. Dr. Bennett is excited to use these methods to investigate the effects of specific dietary components on metabolic diseases. In particular he is focused on how diet affects gene expression.

Dr. Bennett focuses on the role of a particular metabolite (TMAO) which appears to change with diet, and is predictive of cardiovascular disease in humans. Now continuing these studies, Dr. Bennett is working to identify the interaction of groups of genes, also called biologic networks regulating TMAO levels and affecting cardiovascular disease.

Bennett completed his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 1995. He then earned his Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences at University of New Hampshire in 1997. With his Ph.D. earned in Nutritional Sciences at University of Washington in 2006, Dr. Bennett conducted his post doctoral work at UCLA. Based on his academic accomplishments and experience in the professional environment with Pfizer Animal Health, he developed a laser focus in systems genetics. During this time, he explored nutrition as it relates to genetics, now known as the formal study of “nutrigenomics.”

In 2010, Dr, Bennett earned a prestigious K99/R00 “Pathways to Independence Award” from the NIH. This grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute enabled him to further study how genes and diet affect atherosclerosis. Prior to that, he was awarded an  American Heart Association Grants.

Bennett BJ
, Davis RC, Civelek M, Orozco L, Wu J, Qi H, Pan C, Packard R, Eskin E, Kirchgessner T, Hazen S, Gargalovic P, Lusis AJ. Genetic architecture of atherosclerosis in mice: A systems genetics analysis of common inbred strains. PLoS Genet. 2015 Dec 22; 11(12):e1005711.Selected Publications:

Orozco LD, Morselli M, Rubbi L, Guo W, Go J, Shi H, Lopez D, Furlotte NA, Bennett BJ, Farber CR, Ghazalpour A, Zhang MQ, Bahous R, Rozen R, Lusis AJ and Pellegrini M. Epigenome-wide association of liver methylation patterns and complex metabolic traits in mice. Cell Metab. 2015;21:905-17.

 Kayashima Y, Makhanova NA, Matsuki K, Tomita H, Bennett BJ, Maeda N. Identification of aortic arch-specific quantitative trait loci for atherosclerosis by an intercross of DBA/2J and 129S6 apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 17;10(2):e0117478.

 Gregory J, Buffa JA, Org E, Wang E, Levison BS, Zhu W, Wagner MA, Bennett BJ, Li L, DiDonato JA, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL Transmission of atherosclerosis susceptibility with gut microbial transplantation.  J Biol Chem. 2015 Feb 27;290(9):5647-60.

Smallwood TL, Gatti DM, Quizon P, Weinstock GM, Jung KC, Zhao L, Hua K, Pomp D and Bennett BJ. High-Resolution Genetic Mapping in the Diversity Outbred Mouse Population Identifies Apobec1 as a Candidate Gene for Atherosclerosis. G3 (Bethesda). 2014 Oct 23;4(12):2353-63.  

O’Connor A, Quizon PM, Albright JE, Lin FT, Bennett BJ. Responsiveness of cardiometabolic-related microbiota to diet is influenced by host genetics. Mamm Genome. 2014 Dec;25(11-12):583-99.

 Albright J, Quizon P, Lusis AJ, Bennett BJ.  Genetic Network Identifies Novel Pathways Contributing to Atherosclerosis Susceptibility in the Innominate Artery. BMC Med Genomics. 2014 Aug 12;7:51.

 Miller CA, Corbin KD, Costa KA, Zhang S, Zhao X, Galanko JA, Blevins T, Bennett BJ, O’Connor A, Zeisel SH Effect of egg ingestion on TMAO production in humans: a randomized controlled, dose-response study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun 18. pii: ajcn.087692.

 Ghazalpour A,* Bennett BJ,* Shih D, Che N, Orozco L, Pan C, Hagopian R, He A, Kayne P, Yang WP, Kirchgessner T, Lusis AJ. Genetic control of metabolite levels in mouse liver: Relationships to transcript levels and cardiometabolic traits. Mol Syst Biol. 2014 May 23;10(5):730. [*co-first authors]

 Hartiala J, Bennett BJ, Tang WH, Wang Z, Stewart AF, Roberts R, McPherson R, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL, Allayee H; CARDIoGRAM Consortium. Comparative Genome-Wide Association Studies in Mice and Humans for Trimethylamine N-oxide, a Pro-Atherogenic Metabolite of Choline and L-Carnitine. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2014 Jun;34(6):1307-13

 Bennett BJ,* Vallim TQdA,* Wang Z, Shih DM, Meng Y, Gregory J, Allayee H, Lee R, Graham M, Crooke R, Edwards PA, Hazen SL, Lusis AJ. Trimethylamine-n-oxide, a metabolite associated with atherosclerosis, exhibits complex genetic and dietary regulation. Cell Metab. 2013;17:49-60. [*co-first authors]

 Orozco LD,* Bennett BJ,* Farber CR, Ghazalpour A, Pan C, Che N, Wen P, Qi HX, Mutukulu A, Siemers N, Neuhaus I, Yordanova R, Gargalovic P, Pellegrini M, Kirchgessner T, Lusis AJ. Unraveling Inflammatory Responses using Systems Genetics and Gene-Environment Interactions in Macrophages. Cell, 2012. 151(3): p. 658-670. [*co-first authors]

 Bennett, BJ, Orozco L, Kostem E, Erbilgin A, Dallinga M, Neuhaus I, Guan B, Wang X, Eskin E, Lusis AJ. High-resolution association mapping of atherosclerosis Loci in mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 2012. 32(8): p. 1790-8.

 Ghazalpour A,* Bennett B,* Petyuk VA, Orozco L, Hagopian R, Mungrue IN, Farber CR, Sinsheimer J, Kang HM, Furlotte N, Park CC, Wen PZ, Brewer H, Weitz K, Camp DG 2nd, Pan C, Yordanova R, Neuhaus I, Tilford C, Siemers N, Gargalovic P, Eskin E, Kirchgessner T, Smith DJ, Smith RD, Lusis Comparative Analysis of Proteome and Transcriptome Variation in Mouse. PLoS Genet. 2011 Jun;7(6):e1001393. Epub 2011 Jun 9. [*co-first authors]

Wang Z, Klipfell E, Bennett BJ, Koeth R, Levison B, DuGar B, Feldstein AE, Britt EB, Fu X, Chung YM, Wu Y, Schauer P, Smith JD, Allayee H, Tang WH, DiDonato JA, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL. Gut flora dependent metabolism of dietary phosphatidylcholine contributes to cardiovascular disease. Nature 472, 57-63.

 Bennett BJ,* Farber CR,* Orozco L,* Kang H, Ghazalpour A, Siemers N, Neubauer M, Neuhaus I, Yordanova R, Guan B, Truong A, Yang WP, He A, Kayne P, Gargalovic P, Kirchgessner T, Pan C, Castellani LW, Kostem E, Furlotte N, Drake TA, Eskin E, Lusis AJ. A High Resolution Association Mapping Panel for the Dissection of Complex Traits in Mice. Genome Res. 2010 Feb; 20(2):281-90. Epub 2010 Jan 6. [*co-first authors]