Ke Ma

Ke Ma, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Department of Diabetes Complications and Metabolism

Ke Ma, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Focus :
  • Circadian clock regulation of metabolism
  • Circadian clock-controlled epigenetic mechanisms
  • Adipose tissue growth and metabolic capacity
  • Skeletal muscle development, growth and remodeling
Other Languages Spoken
  • Mandarin
Ke Ma, M.D., Ph.D., has a long-standing dedicated interest in metabolic disease research. Following her medical training from Shandong Medical University with an M.D. degree, Dr. Ma pursued doctoral studies in lipoprotein metabolism and cardiovascular disease research at Baylor College of Medicine. Her subsequent postdoctoral research at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology led to one of the leading studies on the metabolic benefit of the bile acid receptor FXR in improving glucose homeostasis, and a molecular link she discovered between the circadian clock network and bile acid metabolism.
This innovative work garnered her the prestigious AstraZeneca Diabetes and Metabolism Research Fellow Award from the Endocrine Society. Dr. Ma established a successful independent research on circadian clock control of metabolism as a tenure-track assistant member at the Center for Diabetes Research at the Houston Methodist Research Institute prior to her recruitment to City of Hope.
She is currently an associate professor of the Department of Diabetes Complications and Metabolism within the Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope. Her current research are supported by multiple grants from the American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and National Institute of Diabetes and and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Ma has served as reviewers for many scientific journals including Cell Reports and Diabetes. She has served on the grant review panel for the American Heart Association since 2012.
  • 2017-present, Associate Professor, Diabetes Complications and Metabolism, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2016-2017, Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Waco, TX
  • 2010-2016, Assistant Member, Center for Diabetes Research, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX
  • Diabetes Complications & Metabolism


  • 2003, Ph.D., Cardiovascular Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 1997, MS, Cardiology, Shandong Medical University
  • 1989-1994, M.D., Medicine, Shandong Medical University


  • 1997-2002, Graduate Student, Lipoprotein Metabolism, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 2004-2009, Molecular Endocrinology, Baylor College of Medicine
  • 2003-2004, Lipoprotein Metabolism, Baylor College of Medicine
The circadian clock entrains metabolic pathways to environmental and endogenous timing cues. Our modern lifestyle creates frequent conflicts between daily activity cycles and the endogenous clock timing, which poses significant risk to the development of metabolic disorders and cancer. Despite the increasing recognition that clock dysfunction may underlie these prevalent chronic diseases, how tissue-intrinsic clock systems orchestrate metabolic homeostasis in accordance with oscillating nutrient signals is not understood.

The broad goal of Dr. Ma’s research is to decipher the molecular pathways by which cell-autonomous clock circuits drive metabolic tissue growth and functional capacity, in order to uncover circadian etiologies underlying metabolic disorders for targeted therapeutic interventions. By combining biochemical and molecular biology approaches with whole-body animal physiology, Dr. Ma’s laboratory applies state-of-the-art technologies in circadian biology to metabolic disease research. In the past seven years, Dr. Ma has successfully established a unique research program in dissecting temporal mechanisms involved in tissue growth and functions of distinct adipose depots and skeletal muscle.

Currently, Dr. Ma’s lab is investigating the genetic and epigenetic regulatory networks mediating nutrient-sensing functions of clock in tissue crosstalk between fat, muscle and liver under normal physiology, and more importantly, how there mechanisms apply to obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, her group explores how clock systems drive stem cell behaviors to fine-tune tissue development, growth and remodeling, and how these processes impact their metabolic capacity. In addition, Dr. Ma will establish collaborative effort with investigators from translational medicine and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at City of Hope to study how environmental lighting and shiftwork-induced circadian clock disruption leads to metabolic dysregulations and its causal relationship with the development of various types of cancer. Ultimately, Dr. Ma’s research to decipher the intricate temporal mechanisms will lead to the discovery of novel targeted clock interventions for the prevention or treatment of metabolic diseases and cancer.
  • 2006-Present, American Heart Association
  • 2010-Present, American Diabetes Association
  • 2014-Present, American Physiology Society
  • 2006-2012, The Endocrine Society
  • 2005, AstraZeneca Diabetes and Metabolism Research Fellow Award, The Endocrine Society
  • 2003, Mason Guest Memorial Award in Physiology & Biophysics, 44th National Student Research Forum
  • 2003, AstraZeneca Diabetes and Metabolism Research Fellow Award, The Endocrine Society
  • 2003, Research Excellence Award, Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America
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