Susan K Fried

Susan K Fried, PhD

About Me

Dr. Fried is Professor and Director of Translational Adipose Biology and Obesity in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute. She earned a B.A. in Biology from Barnard College (1974), an M.S. in Human Nutrition from the Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from Columbia University (1980). After post-doctoral work in Endocrinology at Emory University, and in Lipid Biochemistry at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, she returned to NYC to become a Research Associate at the New York Obesity Center. After that she became Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Human Behavior and Metabolism at Rockefeller University and then moved up the faculty ranks to Professor in the Dept. of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University. At the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr Fried was a Professor and founding director of a NIDDK-funded Clinical Nutrition Research Center / Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC).  She then became the Director of the Boston NORC at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). At BUSM, she was Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Nutrition and Metabolism Her work has been well-funded by the NIH and the American Diabetes Association, among others, for the past 35 years. Acknowledging her contributions of the field of nutrition and to its main professional society. Dr. Fried was elected as a Fellow of the American Nutrition Society in 2022. 


Fat is stored in highly specialized cells called adipocytes. The ability of adipocyte to efficiently stores fed after meals and release it when energy is needed by other cells in the body is critical for integrating the metabolism. Adipocytes are also endocrine cells that secrete hormones send signals that regulate the metabolism and food intake. Intriguingly, adipocytes found in different anatomical locations in the body have distinct functions. The goal of my lab’s research is to understand the physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the growth and function adipocytes and their role in metabolic health in women and men.

Our translation research, conducted in collaboration with Drs. Karastergiou and Albu, focuses on understanding mechanisms underlying depot- and sex- dependent differences in adipose tissue growth. We are motivated by the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms that mediate the associations of central obesity, especially visceral obesity, with higher risk for metabolic disease such as Type 2 diabetes and the protective effect of lower body fat accumulation (storage around hips and thighs. Our current work follows up on studies from our lab and others that show that cells from these depots developmentally and functionally distinct. Specifically, we use: 1) RNA-seq todefine the pathways that differ in abdominal, gluteal and femoral adipose tissue,  2) single cell- and single nuclei RNA-seq to determine how the cellular composition of adipose tissues varies with depot, sex, fat distribution  and physiological state; and 3) metabolomics; metabolic assays with isolated adipocytes,) to define depot differences in the regulation of adipocyte metabolism, secretory function and endocrine function; 4) primary cell and organ culture models assess sex differences in adipose tissue growth and differentiation capacity (adipogenesis), and 5) potentially cell autonomous variations in cellular and molecular mechanisms involved.
A limitation of much of prior work on is that adipose tissue is sampled in the overnight fasted state. Ongoing work addresses sex and depot differences in the effects of meals and specific nutrients on the function of adipose tissues in women and men. A long-term goal of our work is to understand inter-individual differences in post-prandial metabolism that can guide precision nutrition approaches to decreasing risk of obesity and metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes in diverse populations.

PROFESSOR | Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease
Research Topics

Adipose, Metabolism, Obesity, Translational Research

Multi-Disciplinary Training Areas

Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics (DMT)