Jessica M. Ellis, Ph.D.

Jessica M. Ellis

Assistant Professor
Department of Physiology
Brody School of Medicine
East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute
East Carolina University

115 Heart Drive
ECHI - Rm 4118
Greenville, NC 27858
252-744-2862 (Tel)

Check out the Ellis Lab Website

Research Interests

The Ellis Lab research program uses biochemical, metabolic flux, and genetically manipulated mouse model approaches to discover regulatory nodes in fatty acid channeling and to understand how altering fatty acid metabolism influences susceptibility to fatty acid-related cell stress, insulin sensitivity, neurodegeneration, and muscle function. We have two major research focuses in the lab:

  1. Role of fatty acid oxidation in muscle function and health. We have revealed a critical role of fatty acid oxidation in cardiac remodeling, and in muscle's influence on whole body metabolism, obesity, and insulin resistance. Using several novel mouse models we will continue to dissect these relationships and mechanisms.
  2. Fatty acid metabolism in the central nervous system. We have recently discovered that acyl-CoA synthetase 6 (Acsl6) is a critical enzyme required for enriching the brain, central nervous system, and testes with the protective omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid. Loss of Acsl6 results in neuroinflammation and motor deficits demonstrating an important role for fatty acid metabolism in central nervous system health and whole-body physiology.

Our team of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers are paving the path as the next generation of scientists.


  • 2018-Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, East Carolina University
  • 2014-2018: Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition, Purdue University
  • 2011-2014: Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University
  • 2005-2011: Ph.D. degree and Post-doc, Nutritional Biochemistry, The University of North Carolina
  • 2003-2005: Post-bac Research Fellow, GDDB-NIDDK, National Institutes of Health
  • 1999-2003: B.S. degree, Science of Nutrition, Fitness, and Health, Virginia Tech

Selected Publications

  1. Fernandez RF, Kim SQ, Zhao Y, Foguth RM, Weera MM, Counihan JL, Nomura DM, Chester JM, Cannon JR, Ellis JM. Acyl-CoA Synthetase 6 enriches the neuroprotective omega-3 fatty acid DHA in the brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci, In Press, 2018
  2. Pereyra AP, Hasek LY, Harris KL, Berman AG, Damen FW, Goergen CJ, and Ellis JM. Loss of cardiac carnitine palmitoyltransferase 2 results in rapamycin-resistant, acetylation-independent hypertrophy. J. Biol Chem. 2017 Nov 10;292 (45):18443-18456. PMID: 28916721
  3. Ellis JM, Bowman CE, Wolfgang MJ. Metabolic and tissue-specific regulation of acyl-CoA metabolism. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 11;10(3):e0116587. PMID: 25760036
  4. Lee J, Ellis JM, Wolfgang MJ. Adipose fatty acid oxidation is required for thermogenesis and potentiates oxidative stress induced inflammation. Cell Rep. 2015 Jan 13;10(2):266-79. PMID: 25578732
  5. Rodriguez S, Ellis JM, Wolfgang MJ. Chemical-genetic induction of Malonyl-CoA decarboxylase in skeletal muscle. BMC Biochem 2014 15(1):20. PMID: 25152047
  6. Ellis JM, Wong GW & Wolfgang MJ. Acyl Coenzyme A Thioesterase 7 regulates neuronal fatty acid metabolism to prevent neurotoxicity. Mol Cell Biol 2013; 33(9): 1869-1882. PMID: 23459938
  7. Ellis JM & Wolfgang MJ. A genetically encoded metabolite sensor for malonyl-CoA. Chem Biol 2012 Oct; 19(10): 1333-1339. PMID: 23102226
  8. Ellis JM, Mentock SM, DePetrillo MA, Koves TR, Sen S, Watkins SM, Muoio DM, Cline GW, Taegtmeyer H, Shulman GI, Willis MS & Coleman RA. Mouse cardiac Acyl Coenzyme A synthetase 1 deficiency impairs fatty acid oxidation and induces cardiac hypertrophy. Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Mar;31(6): 1252-62. PMID: 21245374
  9. Ellis JM, Li LO, Wu PC, Koves TR, Stevens RD, Watkins SM, Muoio DM & Coleman RA. Adipose acyl-CoA synthetase-1 (ACSL1) directs fatty acids towards β-oxidation and is required for cold thermogenesis. Cell Metab. 2010 Jul 4;12(1): 53-64. PMID: 20620995

Full list of publications