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Jeff Tessem

Associate Professor
Nutrition, Dietetics & Food Science

S-243 ESC
Provo, UT 84042

Dr. Tessem received his Bachelors degree in Microbiology from Brigham Young University in 2001 and then received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 2007. Dr. Tessem completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Christopher Newgard at the Duke University Medical Center's Sarah W. Stedman Center for Nutrition and Metabolism Research.

Teaching Interests
My teaching interests focus on nutrient metabolism and biochemistry. I am interested in the metabolic disorders that cause human diseases.

Research Interests
Both Type 1 (T1D) and Type 2 diabetes (T2D) are caused by a relative insufficiency in functional β-cell mass. Current therapeutic options for diabetes include daily insulin injections to maintain normoglycemia, pharmacological agents to stimulate β-cell function and enhance insulin sensitivity, or islet transplantation. A major obstacle to greater application of islet transplantation therapy is the scarcity of human islets. Thus, new methods for expansion of β-cell mass, applied in vitro to generate the large numbers of human islet cells needed for transplantation, or in situ to induce expansion of the patients remaining β-cells, could have broad therapeutic implications for this disease. To this end, our lab is interested in delineating the molecular pathways that increase β-cell proliferation, enhance glucose stimulated insulin secretion, and protect against β-cell death. I am also interested in the molecular changes that result in insulinoma formation and cancers that are associated with diabetes


  • Preparing Future Faculty, Duke University, 2013
  • Ph.D., Biophysics and Genetics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 2007
  • BS, Microbiology, Brigham Young University, 2001

Academic - Post-Secondary

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Elon University, 2012-2013
  • JDRF and ADA-Takeda Fellow, Duke University Medical Center-Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center, 2007-2013
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Alamance Community College, 2011-2012
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, North Carolina Central University, 2010-2011


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2017-Present
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2017-Present
  • American Heart Association, 2014-Present
  • American Physiological Society, 2014-Present
  • American Society for Nutrition, 2014-Present
  • Danish Diabetes Academy, 2014-Present
  • American Diabetes Association, 2011-Present

Honors and Awards

  • BYU ORCA : 2018 Meg Award
  • American Diabetes Association : Innovative Basic Science Award
  • Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation : Research Award
  • BYU ORCA : 2016 MEG Recipient
  • Utah Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation : JDRF Utah Chapter Hope for the Future Award
  • Beta Cell Biology Consortium : Beta Cell Biology Consortium Investigator Scholarship
  • Keystone Symposium : Keystone Symposium/NIDDK Scholarship

Courses Taught
Winter 2019

  • NDFS 434: Nutr Bio-organic Chemistry Section 001
  • NDFS 494R: Undergrad Research in N D F S Section 008
  • NDFS 602: Advanced Human Nutrition 2 Section 002
  • NDFS 697R: Research Section 003

Fall 2018

  • NDFS 399R: Acad Internship: Nutritnl Sci Section 007
  • NDFS 435: Nutr Biochem & Metabolism Section 001
  • NDFS 494R: Undergrad Research in N D F S Section 008
  • NDFS 631R: Diabetes Section 005
  • NDFS 697R: Research Section 004

Summer 2018

  • LFSCI 199R: Nonresearch Academic Internshp Section 002
  • NDFS 494R: Undergrad Research in N D F S Section 007
  • NDFS 697R: Research Section 002

Spring 2018

  • LFSCI 199R: Nonresearch Academic Internshp Section 002, 008
  • NDFS 399R: Acad Internship: Nutritnl Sci Section 005
  • NDFS 435: Nutr Biochem & Metabolism Section 001
  • NDFS 494R: Undergrad Research in N D F S Section 010
  • NDFS 697R: Research Section 002


Journal Articles

Tessem JS, Bitner BF, Ray JD, Kener KB, Herring JA, Tueller JA, Johnson DK, Tellez Freitas CM, Fauscnact DW, Allen ME, et al. 2018. Common gut microbial metabolites of dietary flavonoids exert potent protective activities in β-cells and skeletal muscle cells. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Parker BA, Walton CM, Carr ST, Andrus JL, Duplisea MJ, Wilson EK, Draney C, Lathen DR, Kenner KB, Thomson DM, et al. 2018. β-Hydroxybutyrate Elicits Favorable Mitochondrial Changes in Skeletal Muscle. 19(8).

Kener KB, Munk DJ, Hancock CR, Tessem JS. 2018. High-resolution Respirometry to Measure Mitochondrial Function of Intact Beta Cells in the Presence of Natural Compounds. J. Vis. Exp. 131.

Rowley, 4th TJ, Bitner BF, Ray JD, Lathen DR, Smithson AT, Dallon BW, Plowman CJ, Bikman BT, Hansen JM, Dorenkott MR, et al. 2017. Monomeric cocoa catechins enhance β-cell function by increasing mitochondrial respiration. 49:30-41.

Banks CJ, Rodriguez NW, Gashler KR, Pandya RR, Mortenson JB, Whited MD, Soderblom EJ, Thompson JW, Moseley MA, Reddi AR, et al. 2017. Acylation of Superoxide Dismutase 1 (SOD1) at K122 Governs SOD1-Mediated Inhibition of Mitochondrial Respiration. 37(20).

Sampson M, Lathen DR, Dallon BW, Draney C, Ray JD, Kener KB, Parker BA, Gibbs JL, Gropp JS, Tessem JS, et al. 2017. β-Hydroxybutyrate improves β-cell mitochondrial function and survival. Journal of Insulin Resistance. 2(1):8.

Reynolds MS, Hancock CR, Ray JD, Kener KB, Draney C, Garland K, Hardman J, Bikman BT, Tessem JS. 2016. β-Cell deletion of Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 nuclear receptors impedes mitochondrial respiration and insulin secretion. 311(1):E186-201.

Ray JD, Kener KB, Bitner BF, Wright BJ, Ballard MB, Barrett EJ, Hill JT, Moss LG, Tessem JS. 2016. Nkx6.1-mediated insulin secretion and β-cell proliferation is dependent on upregulation of c-Fos. 590(12):1791-803.

Tessem JS, Draney C, Hobson AE, Grover SG, Jack BO. 2015. Cdk5r1 Overexpression Induces Primary β-Cell Proliferation. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2016:15.

Hobson A, Draney C, Stratford A, Becker TC, Lu D, Arlotto M, Tessem JS. 2015. Aurora Kinase A is critical for the Nkx6.1 mediated β-cell proliferation pathway. 7(1):e1027854.

Tessem JS, Moss LG, Chao LC, Arlotto M, Lu D, Jensen MV, Stephens SB, Tontonoz P, Hohmeier HE, Newgard CB. 2014. Nkx6.1 regulates islet β-cell proliferation via Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 nuclear receptors. 111(14):5242-7.

Tessem JS, Jensen JN, Pelli H, Dai XM, Zong XH, Stanley RE, Jensen J, DeGregori J. 2008. Critical roles for macrophages in islet angiogenesis and maintenance during pancreatic degeneration. Diabetes. 57(6):1605-17.

Tessem JS, Schisler JC, Fueger PT, Babu DA, Hohmeier HE, Lu D, Becker TC, Naziruddin B, Levy M, Mirmira RG, et al. 2008. Stimulation of human and rat islet beta-cell proliferation with retention of function by the homeodomain transcription factor Nkx6.1. Molecular and Cellular Biology. 28(10):3465-76.

Tessem JS, DeGregori J. 2004. Roles for bone-marrow-derived cells in beta-cell maintenance. 10(11):558-64.

Li FX, Zhu JW, Tessem JS, Beilke J, Varella-Garcia M, Jensen J, Hogan CJ, DeGregori J. 2003. The development of diabetes in E2f1/E2f2 mutant mice reveals important roles for bone marrow-derived cells in preventing islet cell loss. 100(22):12935-40.

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