Rayanne Burl



  • B.A. from Kalamazoo College in Biology
  • Currently a fourth year student in the MGG PhD program
  • NIH F31 3-year fellowship recipient: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

After receiving my B.A. from Kalamazoo College, I worked in Research and Development for the Anatomical Pathology Division of Thermo Fisher Scientific. My work was focused on the development of new techniques and instrumentation to bring molecular pathology into the clinical laboratory. It was my understanding of clinical, anatomic, and molecular pathology that led me to a career in the biomedical science. I chose the Wayne State Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics because of their commitment to innovation, collaboration, and quality research.

Advisor: James Granneman, PhD

Research Interests:

My current research with Dr. Granneman is focused on adipose tissue neogenesis; specifically, how cold triggers the proliferation of multiple cell types in classic brown adipose tissue (BAT).

BAT is a thermogenic organ, which quickly mobilizes its lipid stores to generate heat. While its primary function is heat production in neonate mammals, adult humans also have metabolically active BAT whose mass/activity is correlated with metabolic health. Expansion of BAT in rodent models increases metabolic health by increasing energy expenditure and altering levels of BAT-derived hormones. However, a major challenge for targeting BAT therapeutically is that the amounts of BAT in humans are highly variable and the thermogenic activity is low. Thus, in order to expand the thermogenic and potential hormonal effects of BAT for metabolic improvement in humans, it is necessary to identify the source of new brown adipocytes and determine how they are recruited and maintained in adult mammals. To this end, we are using a combination of single cell RNA-sequencing and transgenic animal models to investigate how adrenergic activation by cold exposure triggers the proliferation of multiple cell types in mouse BAT.