Project III

Project III is focused on the role of immune cells in PVAT. In particular, we are interested in how immune cells in PVAT contribute to inflammation associated with high fat diet and hypertension.


Our mission is to test the hypothesis that the environment of PVAT impacts immune cell function.

Specifically, we hypothesize that during health the environment of PVAT controls immune cell function and thereby prevents inflammation. Conversely, during high fat diet, we hypothesize that the environment of PVAT promotes inflammatory activity of immune cells.

Project III Team

Jamie Bernard

Associate Professor, Dept of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Project III Collaborator, Project IV Collaborator

Jamie is our resident expert in adipose biology. She also has a particular interest in immune cells, which makes her a valuable team member for Project III. She provides consultation on experimental design and approach. She and the members of her laboratory also train students and postdocs on how to make conditioned media from PVAT for in vitro studies.

Cheryl Rockwell

Associate Professor, Dept of Pharmacology & Toxicology.
Acting Director, Applied Immunology Center for Education and Research

Director of Project III. As the leader of Project III, Cheryl is responsible for the overall research direction and progress of the project. She works with the other team members to conceptualize the experiments and interpret the data to try to gain a greater understanding of how immune cells function within the physiology of PVAT. She also assists with writing the manuscripts that result from this research.
Kin Sing Lee

Kin Sing Lee

Assistant Professor, Dept of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Project III Collaborator

Sing is the lead chemist for Project III. Sing has extensive background on the identification and quantification of lipids by mass spectrometry. This expertise is invaluable for understanding how the lipid environment in PVAT changes during high fat diet. Why is that important? Many of the lipids that Sing helps us to quantify are immunomodulatory and can greatly impact immune cell function.
Yining Jin

Yining Jin

Research Associate
Project III Member

Yining is an experienced and talented research associate who has been researching the role of immune cells in PVAT over the last several years. He has considerable expertise in isolating and culturing immune cells. He is also well-versed in studying immune cell function. Yining is a versatile team member—he has mastered an array of useful assays. Yining works with Cheryl to conceptualize the experiments and interpret the data. Yining also writes the manuscripts and presents the data that result from these studies.

Integration with other projects

Due to the intrinsic nature of immune cells, they are highly mobile and interactive with many different cells and tissues, including vasculature, neurons, adipocytes, preadipocytes, etc. Thus, the role of the immune system will also impact Projects I, II and IV. We have a strong interest in the communication that occurs between adipocytes and immune cells and how this impacts inflammation, which is where Project III intersects with Project IV. We are also interested in how immune cells impact stretch, contractility and stiffness of vasculature, which is where this project overlaps with Project I.

Cores involved with Project III

  • Core B: provides the animal models we use and assists with animal procedures.
  • Core C: We work closely with Core C to analyze our transcriptomics data. They also assist with experimental design and implementation of sequencing studies.
  • Core D: helps us to visualize immune cells using microscopy.


Kumar, R., Jin, Y., Watts, S.W., Rockwell, C.E., “Naïve, regulatory, activated and memory immune cells coexist in PVATS that are comparable in density to non-PVAT fats in health” Front Physiol (2020) 11:58. Doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00058, PMID: 32116768 ...