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Thomas P. Burris, Ph.D.

Chair; William Beaumont Professor
Pharmacological and Physiological Science


Ph.D., The Florida State University


Nuclear hormone receptors are ligand activated transcription factors that regulate a variety of physiological functions including development, metabolism, immune function, and reproduction. The best known members of this superfamily of receptors are the steroid receptors but also included in this group are receptors for fatty acids, bile acids, oxidized cholesterol, thyroid hormone, and lipophilic vitamins. Our group is focused on using chemical biology approaches to characterizing the physiological roles of these receptors as well as developing drugs targeting nuclear receptors for treatment of diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. One particular area where we have concentrated over the past several years is identifying the ligands for a group of these receptors known as orphans. The “hormones” that bind to these orphan receptors have yet to be discovered.



Chandra V, Huang P, Raghuram S, Hamuro Y, Wang Y, Burris TP, Rastinejad F Structural Organization of the Intact PPARγ-RXRα Nuclear Receptor Complex on DNA. Nature 2008 456:350-356 (article).

Raghuram S, Stayrook KR, Huang P, Rogers PM, Noise AK, McClure DB, Burris LL, Khorasanizadeh S, Burris TP*, Rastinejad F* Identification of Heme as the Ligand for the Orphan Receptors REV-ERBα and REV-ERBβ. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 2007 14:1207-1213. * Equal contributors and corresponding author.

Solt LA, Burris TP, Action of RORs and their ligands in (patho)physiology. Trends Endocrinol Metab 2012 23(12):619-27.

Burris TP Busby SA Griffin PR, Targeting orphan nuclear receptors for treatment of metabolic diseases and autoimmunity. Chem Biol 2012 19(1):51-9.

Zhang J, Chalmers MJ, Stayrook KR, Burris LL, Wang Y, Busby SA, Pascal BD, Garcia-Ordonez RD, Bruning JB, Istrate MA, Kojetin DJ, Dodge JA, Burris TP, Griffin PR, DNA binding alters coactivator interaction surfaces of the intact VDR-RXR. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2011 18(5):556-63.

Solt LA, Kumar N, Nuhant P, Wang Y, Lauer JL, Liu J, Istrate MA, Kamenecka TM, Roush WR, Vidovic D, Schurer SC, Xu J, Wagoner G, Drew PD, Griffin PR, Burris TP, Suppression of TH17 differentiation and autoimmunity by a synthetifc ROR ligand, Nature 472(7344):491-4.

Wang NS, McHeyzer-Williams LJ, Okitsu SL, Burris TP, Reiner SL, McHeyzer-Williams MG. Divergent transcriptional programming of class-specific B cell memory by T-bet and ROAa. Nat Immunol. 2012 13(6):604-11.

Solt LA, Wang Y, Banerjee S, Hughes T, Kojetin DJ, Lundasen T, Shin Y, Liu J, Cameron MD, Noel R, Yoo SH, Takahashi JS, Butler AA, Kamenecka TM, Burris TP. Regulation of circadian behaviour and metabolism by synthetic REV-ERB agonists. Nature 2012 485(7396):62-8.

Burris TP, Solt LA, Wang Y, Crumbley C, Banerjee S, Griffett K, Lundasen T, Hughes T, Kojetin DJ. Nuclear receptors and their selective pharmacologic modulators. Pharmacol. Rev. 2013 65(2):710-78.

Woldt E, Sebti Yk, Solt LA, Duhem C, Lancel S, Eeckhoute J, Hesselink MK, Paquet C, Delhaye S, Shin Y, Kamenecka TM, Schaart G, Lefebvre P, Neviere R, Burris TP, Schrauwen P, Staels B, Duez H. Rev-erb-amodulates skeletal muscle oxidative capacity by regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy. Nat Med 2013 19(8):1039-48.



Title: Treatment of Alcohol Induced Liver Injury with REV-ERB Ligands
Agency: NIH R21 AA021298

Title: Development of ROR ligands for treatment circadian rhythm disorders
Agency: NIH R01MH092769

Title: REV-ERB Ligands for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Agency: NIH R01MH093429

Honors and Awards

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (Elected 2010),“for outstanding research contributions to the field of nuclear receptor action and pharmacology, particularly in the area of chemical biology of orphan nuclear receptors.”Fellow of the American Heart Association (Elected 2011)

Professional Organizations and Associations

  • Endocrine Society
  • American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Medicine
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • American Association for Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Heart Association
  • Editorial Board Memberships
  • Molecular Pharmacology (2006-present)
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry (2008-present)
  • World Journal of Diabetes (2009-present)
  • Current Chemical Biology (2009-present)
  • Molecular Endocrinology (2012-present)
  • Endocrinology (2008-2011)