Robert Farese, Jr.    Distinguished Adjunct Professor
InstituteSchool of Life Science and Technology
Research AreaMetabolism, Structural Biology


Prof. Dr. Robert Farese, Jr. is an American physician-scientist who studies the mechanisms and physiology of lipid synthesis and storage in lipid droplets.

He obtained an M.D. degree from Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville and subsequently trained in medicine and basic science at the University of Colorado and the University of California, San Francisco, working with Prof. Dr. Stephen Young (now at UCLA). From 1993 till 2014, he was an investigator at the Gladstone Institutes, as well as a professor of Medicine, and of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). His laboratory studied the biochemistry and physiology of lipid metabolism.

In 2014, Drs. Farese moved to Harvard in Boston where directs a laboratory focused on lipid metabolism research with his scientific partner, Dr. Tobias Walther.  Since 2019, Drs. Farese and Walther co-direct the laboratory of mechanistic metabolism in the school of life sciences at Shanghai Tech University. 

Research Interests

Research of Drs. Farese and Walther focuses on the basic biological mechanisms of synthesis, storage, transport, and metabolism of neutral lipids. Neutral lipids, particularly sterol esters and triacylglycerols (TG), are crucial components of a myriad of fundamental cellular processes. These include energy storage, membrane synthesis, signaling, and intra- and extracellular lipid transport. Excessive lipid storage in tissues underlies prevalent metabolic diseases including atherosclerosis, obesity, fatty liver disease and diabetes. These same processes are also responsible for the production of seed oils and biofuels. In their scientific partnership, Drs. Farese and Walther elucidate key processes governing neutral lipid storage in cellular lipid droplets, as well as the physiology and pathophysiology of lipid storage.

The laboratory uses a variety of biochemical and cell biological approaches to study fundamental mechanisms. The laboratory of Mechanistic Metabolism focuses primarily on biochemistry and structural biology, as well as systems-type approaches to study lipid metabolism..

Selected Publications

Probing the Global Cellular Responses to Lipotoxicity Caused by Saturated Fatty Acids. Piccolis M, Bond LM, Kampmann M, Pulimeno P, Chitraju C, Jayson CBK, Vaites LP, Boland S, Lai ZW, Gabriel KR, Elliott SD, Paulo JA, Harper JW, Weissman JS, Walther TC, Farese RV JrMol Cell. 2019 Feb 26. pii: S1097-2765(19)30056-5. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.01.036.


Cryo-electron microscopy structure of the lipid droplet-formation protein seipin. Sui X, Arlt H, Brock KP, Lai ZW, DiMaio F, Marks DS, Liao M, Farese RV JrWalther TCJ Cell Biol. 2018 Dec 3;217(12):4080-4091. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201809067. Epub 2018 Oct 16.


Mechanism and Determinants of Amphipathic Helix-Containing Protein Targeting to Lipid Droplets. Prévost C, Sharp ME, Kory N, Lin Q, Voth GA, Farese RV Jr, Walther TC.Dev Cell. 2018 Jan 8;44(1):73-86.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.12.011. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


Triglyceride Synthesis by DGAT1 Protects Adipocytes from Lipid-Induced ER Stress during Lipolysis. Chitraju C, Mejhert N, Haas JT, Diaz-Ramirez LG, Grueter CA, Imbriglio JE, Pinto S, Koliwad SK, Walther TC, Farese RV JrCell Metab. 2017 Aug 1;26(2):407-418.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.07.012.


Seipin is required for converting nascent to mature lipid droplets. Wang H, Becuwe M, Housden BE, Chitraju C, Porras AJ, Graham MM, Liu XN, Thiam AR, Savage DB, Agarwal AK, Garg A, Olarte MJ, Lin Q, Fröhlich F, Hannibal-Bach HK, Upadhyayula S, Perrimon N, Kirchhausen T, Ejsing CS, Walther TC,Farese RVElife. 2016 Aug 26;5. pii: e16582. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16582.