Nutrition & Health Sciences

Janos Zempleni, Ph.D.

Dr. Zempleni is the director of the Nebraska Center for the Prevention of Obesity Diseases at UNL. His research focuses on the roles of dietary nanoparticles and their various RNA cargos in foods, and the roles of these compounds in gene regulation and human health. Members of the Zempleni team use various models in their research, including cell cultures, animals and human subjects. Lab members use cell biology and molecular biology protocols in their research. The laboratory is funded by various federal agencies and foundations.  Dr. Zempleni has an exemplary mentoring record. Since 2001, he has mentored 90 trainees, specifically 13 postdoctoral students, 12 doctoral students, 20 master’s students, 40 undergraduate students, two high school students, and three visiting scientists. The majority of these students were women (65) and a considerable number were minorities (five Hispanic, two African American). Students in the Zempleni laboratory have been recognized with more than 80 awards, including ten research awards at the national level. Every student who has graduated from the Zempleni laboratory has secured employment in academia or industry, including professorships and leadership positions in biotechnology companies.
For more information on Dr. Zempleni: Web Site

Soonkyu Chung
Associate Professor

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. My research addresses this growing challenge posed by the epidemic of obesity to health by investigating the function of dietary bioactive molecules to reduce the prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome. In particular, my research focuses on brown/beige adipocytes, energy-releasing fat cells in contrast to energy-accumulating white fat cells, as a therapeutic target to counteract obesity. My current research program can be divided into four parts: 1) elucidation of the underlying mechanism beta-3 adrenergic receptor activation induces white-to-beige adipocyte conversion, 2) development of metabolically active and transplantable brown fat pad from the inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to treat type 2 diabetes, 3) epigenetic regulation of fetal brown fat development via maternal omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake, and 4) epigenetic regulation of hypertrophic obesity and type 2 diabetes by dietary ellagic acid and its gut-derived metabolites.