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Kendra K. Bence, PhD

Senior Director, Metabolism

Kendra K. Bence joined Pfizer in 2015 and is a Senior Director of Metabolism in the Internal Medicine Research Unit (IMRU). Her work currently focuses on research and discovery efforts in the NAFLD/NASH and metabolic disease therapeutic areas. She leads a talented team of scientists focused on developing a deep understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying metabolic dysfunction and fatty liver disease, with the goal of identifying novel ways to treat and eventually prevent these metabolic diseases. Consistent with her passion for training and mentoring the next generation of scientists, she also serves as the Internal Medicine representative to the Pfizer WRD Post-Doctoral Program.

Dr. Bence has a long-standing interest in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease. As an undergraduate at Colgate University, she studied how different lipid compositions in cold-acclimated crayfish allowed them to survive the long Upstate New York winters. After graduating with a B.A. in Biology, she worked at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA & the University of Connecticut Health Center studying insulin secretion from toadfish islet tissue. Her graduate work focused on the regulation of cellular signaling by tyrosine phosphorylation, and, in 2000, she earned her Ph.D. in Physiology & Biophysics from the Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in New York, NY. During her subsequent post-doctoral work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston, she became interested in the role of cellular signaling in the context of metabolism. In 2006, she joined the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor and was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. While at Penn, she served as the Director of Academic Enrichment for the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (IDOM), and served on the American Diabetes Association grant review panel as well as on various NIH study sections. Her academic research at Penn focused on the role of protein tyrosine phosphatases in metabolism, and she authored/co-authored numerous original research articles, book chapters, and reviews on this subject.

RESEARCH AREA(S)

Dr. Bence’s metabolism team at Pfizer is focused on the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). They utilize a variety of cellular systems and metabolic models to interrogate pathways involved in the accumulation of fat in the liver, with the ultimate goal of developing novel therapies for chronic liver diseases. In collaboration with Internal Medicine colleagues, they are also researching novel mechanisms and pathways involved in adipose tissue dysfunction, immunometabolism, cardiometabolism, obesity, and cachexia.

PUBLICATIONS

Liver-Specific Deletion of Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) Improves Metabolic Syndrome and Attenuates Diet-Induced Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress. Diabetes 58(3): 590-9 (2009).
Delibegovic, M., Zimmer, D., Kauffman, C., Rak, K., Hong, E.-G., Cho Y.-R., Kim, J.K., Kahn, B.B., Neel, B.G., and Bence, K.K. PMCID: PMC2646057.

PTP1B and SHP2 in POMC neurons reciprocally regulate energy balance in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 120(3): 720-734 (2010).
Banno, R., Zimmer, D., De Jonghe, B., Atienza, M., Rak, K., Yang, W., and Bence, K.K. PMCID: PMC2827947.

Intracellular signals mediating the food intake-suppressive effects of hindbrain glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor activation. Cell Metabolism 13(3):320-30 (2011).
Hayes, M.R., Leichner, T.M., Zhao, S., Lee, G.S., Chowansky, A., Zimmer, D., De Jonghe, B.C., Kanoski, S.E., Grill, H.J., and Bence, K.K. PMCID: PMC3108145.

Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Control of Metabolism, volume editor Kendra K. Bence.
Chapter: PTP1B and TC-PTP in CNS signaling and control of energy balance. Tony Tiganis and Kendra K. Bence. Springer Press, ISBN 978-1-4614-7854-6 (2013).

Ablation of intact hypothalamic and/or hindbrain TrkB signaling leads to perturbations in energy balance. Molecular Metabolism, 4 (11): 867-80 (2015).
Ceren Ozek, Derek J. Zimmer, Bart C. De Jonghe, Robert G. Kalb, and Kendra K. Bence. PMCID: PMC4632115.

EDUCATION

Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Post-doctoral fellow, 2000-2005.

Cornell University Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Department of Physiology, Biophysics, and Molecular Medicine. New York, NY. Ph.D., 2000.

Colgate University, Department of Biology, Hamilton, NY. B.A.; 1993

AWARDS & HONORS

Pfizer Award for Outstanding Achievement and Dedication to Research; Penn Vet
NIH Grant R01-DK082417 (PI: Bence)
NIH Post-doctoral National Research Service Award
The Medical Foundation/Charles A. King Trust Post-doctoral Fellowship