Brian J Bennett

Brian Bennett

Position Title
Adjunct Associate Professor

WHNRC-430 West Health Sciences Dr Davis, CA 95618

Profile Introduction

Brian Bennett, Ph.D. is an emerging scientist in nutrigenomics, joined the USDAS's Western Human Nutrition Research Center in 2016. He is currently the Research Leader for the Obesity and Metabolism Unit.

Research Interests


Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis have both genetic and environmental risk factors, but understanding the complex interactions between susceptibility genes and the environment has been difficult.  I am particularly interested in using integrative genetic studies, also called systems genetics, to elucidate the genetic component of these chronic metabolic diseases.  The goal of this work is to identify individual genes and/or the interaction of groups of genes, also called biologic networks, contributing to these diseases.

Microbiota derived metabolites and disease risk

Diet is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease risk and integration of circulating small molecule metabolites, metabolomics, provide potential biomarkers of the disease severity and mechanisms by which atherosclerosis develops.   For example, in collaboration with investigators at the Cleveland Clinic, we have recently identified a novel metabolite of dietary choline called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) that is predictive of atherosclerosis in humans and mice.  Integrative analysis of this metabolite with expression mapping has confirmed begun to elucidate the mechanisms by which theset raits, atherosclerosis, metabolites and transcripts, are related.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology


  • 2006 PhD Nutrition University of Washington


Coffey AR, Smallwood TL, Albright J, Hua K, Kanke M, Pomp D, Bennett BJ, Sethupathy P (2017) Systems genetics identifies a co-regulated module of liver microRNAs associated with plasma LDL cholesterol in murine diet-induced dyslipidemia. Physiol Genomics, physiolgenomics 00050 02017

Bennett BJ, Davis RC, Civelek M, Orozco L, Wu J, Qi H, Pan C, Packard RR, Eskin E, Yan M, Kirchgessner T, Wang Z, Li X, Gregory JC, Hazen SL, Gargalovic PS, Lusis AJ (2015) Genetic Architecture of Atherosclerosis in Mice: A Systems Genetics Analysis of Common Inbred Strains. PLoS Genet 11, e1005711

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, Pellegrini M (2015) Epigenome-wide association of liver methylation patterns and complex metabolic traits in mice. Cell Metab 21, 905-917

Ghazalpour A, Bennett BJ, Shih D, Che N, Orozco L, Pan C, Hagopian R, He A, Kayne P, Yang Wp, Kirchgessner T, Lusis AJ (2014) Genetic regulation of mouse liver metabolite levels

Smallwood TL, Gatti DM, Quizon P, Weinstock GM, Jung KC, Zhao L, Hua K, Pomp D, Bennett BJ (2014) High-Resolution Genetic Mapping in the Diversity Outbred Mouse Population Identifies Apobec1 as a Candidate Gene for Atherosclerosis. G3 (Bethesda) 4, 2253-2263

Bennett BJ, de Aguiar Vallim TQ, Wang Z, Shih DM, Meng Y, Gregory J, Allayee H, Lee R, Graham M, Crooke R, Edwards PA, Hazen SL, Lusis AJ (2013) Trimethylamine-N-oxide, a metabolite associated with atherosclerosis, exhibits complex genetic and dietary regulation. Cell Metab 17, 49-60

Wang Z, Klipfell E, Bennett BJ, Koeth R, Levison BS, 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 (2011) Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature 472, 57-63