Yaacov Barak, PhD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science

Dr. Barak is a member of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation and a member of the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Training Program.
Office Location:
Magee-Womens Research Institute
204 Craft Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-641-8557
Lab Telephone: 412-641-3877
Email: baraky@mwri.magee.edu


  • PhD - 1994, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Research Interests

Dr. Barak's two disparate research themes are the placenta and adipose (fat) tissue. His laboratory focuses on the developmental regulation of both tissues by the nuclear hormone receptors PPARγ and PPARδ - two key therapeutic targets in metabolic diseases. Research methodologies in Dr. Barak's laboratory include:
  • A wide array of gene targeting strategies, including lineage tracing, tissue-specific, and conditional knockouts and knockins
  • Histological, physiological and molecular phenotyping
  • Studies of stem and progenitor cells
  • Molecular and genetic analyses of the function and regulation of PPAR target genes
Findings facilitated by these approaches yielded, in turn, downstream studies that are available as potential thesis projects for interested students. Projects may integrate one or more of the following broad areas:
  • Molecular genetic and metabolic analysis of PPARγ and PPARδ target genes in the placenta
  • Transcriptional regulation of target genes by PPARs and their associated networks of transcription factors and cofactors
  • The adipocyte life cycle: progenitor cells, adipocyte differentiation, adipocyte death, regeneration, and mechanisms of adipose tissue diseases, primarily lipodystrophy and obesity/type II diabetes

Awards and Honors

NIH R01 DK078206 - Novel Mechanisms of PPARγ in Adipose Tissue Development
NIH P01 HD069316 - Molecular and Cellular Controls of Placental Metabolism: Project II & Core C

Selected Publications

View Dr. Barak's publications on PubMed

  1. Barak Y, Nelson MC, Ong ES, Jones YZ, Ruiz-Lozano P, Koder A, Chien KR, Evans RM. PPARγ is required for placental, cardiac, and adipose tissue development. Mol Cell 1999;4:585-595.
  2. Miles PDG, Barak Y, He W, Evans RM, Olefsky JM. Improved insulin sensitivity in mice heterozygous for PPARγ deficiency. J Clin Invest 2000;105:287-292.
  3. Chawla A, Barak Y, Nagy L, Liao D, Tontonoz P, Evans RM. PPAR-γ dependent and independent effects on macrophage-gene expression in lipid metabolism and inflammation. Nat Med 2001;7:48-52.
  4. Barak Y, Liao D, He W, Ong ES, Nelson MC, Olefsky JM, Boland R, Evans RM. Effects of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor δ on placentation, adiposity, and colorectal cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2002;99:303-308.
  5. Chawla A, Lee CH, Barak Y, He W, Rosenfeld JM, Liao D, Han J, Kang H, Evans RM. PPARδ is a very low-density lipoprotein sensor in macrophages. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2003;100:1268-1273.
  6. He W*, Barak Y*, Hevener A*, Olson P, Liao D, Le J, Nelson M, Ong E, Olefsky JM, Evans RM (*Co-first authors). Adipose-specific peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ knockout causes insulin resistance in fat and liver, but not in muscle. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2003;100:15712-15717.
  7. Hevener AL*, He W*, Barak Y*, Le J, Bandyopadhyay G, Olson P, Wilkes J, Evans RM, Olefsky JM (*Co-first authors). Muscle-specific Pparγ deletion causes insulin resistance. Nat Med 2003;9:1491-1497.
  8. Shalom-Barak T, Nicholas JM, Wang Y, Zhang X, Ong ES, Young TH, Gendler SJ, Evans RM, Barak Y. PPARγ controls Muc1 transcription in trophoblasts. . 2004; 24:10661-10669.
  9. Schaiff T, Barak Y, Sadovsky Y. The pleiotropic function of PPARγ in the placenta. Mol Cell Endocrinol 2006;249:10-15.
  10. Schaiff TW, Knapp FF, Jr., Barak Y, Biron-Shental T, Nelson MD, Sadovsky Y. Ligand-activated PPARγ alters placental morphology and placental fatty acid uptake in mice. Endocrinology 2007;148:3625-3634.
  11. Kim S, Huang L-W, Snow KJ, Ablamunits V, Hasham MG, Young TH, Paulk AC, Richardson JE, Affourtit J, Shalom-Barak T, Bult CJ, Barak Y. A mouse model of conditional lipodystrophy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007;104:16627-16632. PMCID: PMC2034232.
  12. Barak Y, Sadovsky Y, Shalom-Barak T. 2008. PPAR signaling in placental development and function. PPAR Res. 2008:142082. PMCID: PMC2225458.
  13. Szanto A, Balint BL, Nagy Z, Barta E, Dezso B, Pap A, Szeles L, Poliska S, Oros M, Schwabe J, Evans RM, Barak Y, Nagy L. 2010. Identification of STAT6 as a required facilitator of PPARγ-regulated gene expression in macrophages and dendritic cells. Immunity 33:699-712. PMCID: PMC21093321.
  14. Moran-Salvador E, Lopez-Parra M, Garcia-Alonso V, Titos E, Martinez-Clemente M, Gonzalez-Periz A, Lopez-Vicario C, Barak Y, Arroyo V., Claria J. 2011. Role for PPARγ in obesity-induced hepatic steatosis as determined by hepatocyte- and macrophage-specific conditional knockouts. FASEB J. 25:2538-2550. PMCID: PMC21507897.