Kien Lab Research

Research Interests

  • Dietary fatty acids cognitive function.  These studies are being conducted in collaboration with Julie Dumas, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, UVM 
  • Effects of long- and short-chain fatty acids on metabolism. This work includes studies of dietary saturated fat (palmitic acid) and monounsaturated fat (oleic acid)
  • Colonic fermentation of carbohydrate and its effects on the colonic microbiota and risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes  

Research Goals

  • To determine how ingestion of dietary fatty acids may alter the risks of cognitive decline with aging, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes
  • To determine if the ingestion of carbohydrates and perhaps dietary fats alter the metabolic activity of the colonic microbiota

Types of Research Performed


Human Translational Research: Our research is now particularly focused on studies of older adults at the UVM Clinical Research Center.  We are studying the effects of dietary palmitic and oleic acid on the aging brain in collaboration with Dr. Dumas; research methods include clinical trial methodology, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and measures of memory, executive function, mental stress, and mood.  Past and future studies with Dr. Poynter, which utilize the same cohort of older adults, involve evaluation of inflammatory cytokine secretion by stimulated monocytes as well as circulating concentrations of the same cytokines. In collaboration with Dr. Santoro at Yale, we also have been using stable isotopes to quantify, in adolescents, fermentation of carbohydrate by the colonic microbiota.