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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.