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Bray PhD, Molly

Molly S Bray

Department Chair, Nutritional Sciences, Professor
College of Natural Sciences, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Susan T. Jastrow Human Ecology Chair for Excellence in Nutritional Sciences (Holder)


Phone: 512-471-3958

Office Location
PAI 5.32

Dr. Molly Bray is the Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, a Professor in the department, and is the Susan T. Jastrow Chair for Excellence in Nutritional Sciences. Dr. Bray has a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in Human and Molecular Genetics from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.  Prior to joining UT-Austin, she served as the director of the Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine Genetics Core Laboratory.  She is a first-generation graduate, and her research is focused on the genetics of obesity and response to obesity treatments.


Dr. Bray’s research focuses on the relationship between energy balance and lifestyle factors such as exercise, nutrition, and circadian patterns of behavior. Her recent findings related to the genetic underpinnings of exercise adherence and the relationship between timing and quality of energy intake and weight gain/metabolic health have been featured on national and international news programs, a myriad of websites, and popular news media. Dr. Bray currently leads one of the largest genetic studies of exercise adherence established to date, the Training Interventions and Genetics of Exercise Response (TIGER) study, with a total cohort of more than 3,500 individuals. Her research has included investigations of aerobic fitness and resting and exercise energy expenditure in children and adolescents, circadian studies of feeding and metabolic response, and clinical studies of morbidly obese adolescents undergoing bariatric surgery. A nationally recognized expert on the genetics of obesity, energy balance, and exercise response, Dr. Bray has published extensively in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, with her work being featured at national and international scientific meetings. 

Selected publications from Dr. Bray's laboratory are listed below:

  1. Bray MS, Young ME. (2009) The role of cell-specific circadian clocks in metabolism and disease. Obes Rev. Suppl 2:6-13
  2. Gimble JM, Bray MS, Young A. (2009) Circadian biology and sleep: missing links in obesity and metabolism?  Obes Rev. Suppl 2:1-5
  3. Bray MS, Tsai J-Y, Villegas-Montoya C, Boland BB, Blasier Z, Egbejimi O, Kueht M & Young ME (2010) Time-of-Day-Dependent Dietary Fat Consumption Influences Multiple Cardiometabolic Syndrome Parameters in Mice.  Int J Obes  PMCID: PMC3021134
  4. O'Connor DP, Bray MS, McFarlin BK, Sailors MH, Ellis KJ, Jackson AS. (2010) Generalized equations for estimating DXA percent fat of diverse young women and men: the TIGER study. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 42(10):1959-65.  PMCID: PMC2925069
  5. Rankinen T, Roth SM, Bray MS, Loos R, Pérusse L, Wolfarth B, Hagberg JM, Bouchard C (2010) Advances in exercise, fitness, and performance genomics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 42:835-46.
  6. Dishman RK, Jackson AS, Bray MS. (2010) Validity of processes of change in physical activity among college students in the TIGER study. Ann Behav Med. 40(2):164-75. PMCID: PMC3122327
  7. Prakash S, Lemaire SA, Bray M, Milewicz DM, Belmont JW. (2010) Large deletions and uniparental disomy detected by SNP arrays in adults with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections. Am J Med Genet A. 152A(9):2399-405.
  8. Sailors MH, Jackson AS, McFarlin BK, Turpin I, Ellis KJ, Foreyt JP, Hoelscher DM, Bray MS (2010) Exposing college students to exercise: the Training Interventions and Genetics of Exercise Response (TIGER) study. J Am Coll Health. 59(1):13-20.  PMCID: PMC2919225
  9. Berthiaume JM, Bray MS, McElfresh TA, Chen X, Azam S, Young ME, Hoit BD, Chandler MP. (2010)  The myocardial contractile response to physiological stress improves with high saturated fat feeding in heart failure. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 299(2):H410-21. PMCID: PMC2930388
  10.       Prakash SK, LeMaire SA, Guo DC, Russell L, Regalado ES, Golabbakhsh H, Johnson RJ, Safi HJ, Estrera AL, Coselli JS, Bray MS, Leal SM, Milewicz DM, Belmont JW. (2010) Rare copy number variants disrupt genes regulating vascular smooth muscle cell adhesion and contractility in sporadic thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections. Am J Hum Genet. 2010 Dec 10;87(6):743-56.  PMCID: PMC2997376
  11.       Maningat PD, Sen P, Rijnkels M, Hadsell DL, Bray MS, Haymond MW. (2011) Short-Term Administration of rhGH Increases Markers of Cellular Proliferation but not Milk Protein Gene Expression in Normal Lactating Women. Physiol Genomics.  PMCID: PMC3092339
  12.       O'Connor DP, Bray MS, McFarlin BK, Ellis KJ, Sailors MH, Jackson AS (2011) Ethnic Bias in Anthropometric Estimates of DXA Abdominal Fat: the TIGER Study. Med Sci Sports Exerc. PMCID: PMC3179798
  13.       Bucasas KL, Franco LM, Shaw CA, Bray MS, Wells JM, Niño D, Arden N, Quarles JM, Couch RB, Belmont JW (2011) Early Patterns of Gene Expression Correlate With the Humoral Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in Humans. J Infect Dis  PMCID: PMC3068032
  14. 14.      Bray MS, Young ME (2011) Regulation of Fatty Acid Metabolism by Cell Autonomous Circadian Clocks: Time to Fatten up on Information? J Biol Chem 286:11883-9   PMCID: PMC3069390
  15.       Durgan DJ, Tsai JY, Grenett MH, Pat BM, Ratcliffe WF, Villegas-Montoya C, Garvey ME, Nagendran J, Dyck JR, Bray MS, Gamble KL, Gimble JM, Young ME (2011) Evidence Suggesting that the Cardiomyocyte Circadian Clock Modulates Responsiveness of the Heart to Hypertrophic Stimuli in Mice.  Chronobiol Int. 2011 Apr.;28(3):187-203.  PMCID: PMC3230077
  16.       Nagalla S, Shaw C, Kong X, Kondkar AA, Edelstein LC, Ma L, Chen J, McKnight GS, López JA, Yang L, Jin Y, Bray MS, Leal SM, Dong JF, Bray PF (2011) .Platelet microRNA-mRNA co-expression profiles correlate with platelet reactivity. Blood. PMCID: PMC3109541
  17.       Tomson SN, Avidan N, Lee K, Sarma AK, Tushe R, Milewicz DM, Bray MS, Leal SM, Eagleman DM.  (2011) The genetics of colored sequence synesthesia: Suggestive evidence of linkage to 16q and genetic heterogeneity for the condition. Behav Brain Res. 223(1):48-52. 
  18.       Lemaire SA, McDonald ML, Guo DC, Russell L, Miller CC 3rd, Johnson RJ, Bekheirnia MR, Franco LM, Nguyen M, Pyeritz RE, Bavaria JE, Devereux R, Maslen C, Holmes KW, Eagle K, Body SC, Seidman C, Seidman JG, Isselbacher EM, Bray MS, Coselli JS, Estrera AL, Safi HJ, Belmont JW, Leal SM, Milewicz DM. (2011) Genome-wide association study identifies a susceptibility locus for thoracic aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections spanning FBN1 at 15q21.1. Nat Genet. 43:996-1000.  PMCID: PMC3244938
  19.       Durgan DJ, Pat BM, Laczy B, Bradley JA, Tsai JY, Grenett MH, Ratcliffe WF, Brewer RA, Nagendran J, Villegas-Montoya C, Zou C, Zou L, Johnson RL Jr, Dyck JR, Bray MS, Gamble KL, Chatham JC, Young ME. (2011) O-GlcNAcylation, Novel Post-Translational Modification Linking Myocardial Metabolism and Cardiomyocyte Circadian Clock.  J Biol Chem. 286:44606-19. PMCID: PMC3247942
  20.       Speakman JR, Levitsky DA, Allison DB, Bray MS, de Castro JM, Clegg DJ, Clapham JC, Dulloo AG, Gruer L, Haw S, Hebebrand J, Hetherington MM, Higgs S, Jebb SA, Loos RJ, Luckman S, Luke A, Mohammed-Ali V, O'Rahilly S, Pereira M, Perusse L, Robinson TN, Rolls B, Symonds ME, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. (2011) Set points, settling points and some alternative models: theoretical options to understand how genes and environments combine to regulate body adiposity. Dis Model Mech. 4(6):733-45.  PMCID: PMC3209643
  21.       Bray MS and Young ME (2012) Chronobiological Effects on Obesity.  Curr Obes Rep 1:9–15. PMCID: PMC3653336
  22.       Allon M, Zhang L, Maya ID, Bray MS, Fernandez JR; dialysis Access Consortium (DAC) Study Investigators.(2012) Association of Factor V Gene Polymorphism With Arteriovenous Graft Failure. Am J Kidney Dis. 59(5):682-8. PMCID: PMC3328616
  23.       McBride CM, Bryan AD, Bray MS, Swan GE, Green ED (2012) Health Behavior Change: Can Genomics Improve Behavioral Adherence? Am J Pub Health, 1-5.
  24.       Kelpke SS, Chen B, Bradley KM, Teng X, Chumley P, Brandon A, Yancey B, Moore B, Head H, Viera L, Thompson JA, Crossman DK, Bray MS, Eckhoff DE, Agarwal A, Patel RP. (2012) Sodium nitrite protects against kidney injury induced by brain death and improves post-transplant function. Kidney Int. 82(3):304-13  PMCID:  PMC3412933
  25.       Bray MS, Ratcliffe WF, Grenett MH, Brewer RA, Gamble KL, Young ME (2012) Quantitative analysis of light-phase restricted feeding reveals metabolic dyssynchrony in mice. Int J Obes (Lond). 37:843-52.  PMCID: PMC3505273
  26.       Sanders YY, Ambalavanan N, Halloran B, Zhang X, Liu H, Crossman DK, Bray MS, Zhang K, Thannickal VJ, Hagood JS. (2012) Altered DNA Methylation Profile in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 186:525-35. PMCID: PMC3480526
  27.       Bucasas KL, Mian AI, Demmler-Harrison GJ, Caviness AC, Piedra PA, Franco LM, Shaw CA, Zhai Y, Wang X, Bray MS, Couch RB, Belmont JW. (2013) Global Gene Expression Profiling in Infants with Acute Respiratory Syncytial Virus Broncholitis Demonstrates Systemic Activation of Interferon Signaling Networks. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 32:e68-76.
  28.       Tsai JY, Villegas-Montoya C, Boland BB, Blasier Z, Egbejimi O, Gonzalez R, Kueht M, McElfresh TA, Brewer RA, Chandler MP, Bray MS, Young ME (2013) .Influence of dark phase restricted high fat feeding on myocardial adaptation in mice. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 55:147-55. PMCID: PMC3546154
  29.       Hanks LJ, Casazza K, Ashraf AP, Ramanadham S, Ard J, Bray MS, Mark Beasley T, Fernandez JR (2013) Vitamin D and calcium-sensing receptor polymorphisms differentially associate with resting energy expenditure in peripubertal children. J Bone Miner Metab PMCID: PMC3965256
  30.       Mitchell NE, MacKenzie LW, Bray MS, Crossman DK, Tollefsbol TO (2013) Real-time Methylomic Aberrations During Initiation and Progression of Induced Human Mammary Epithelial Cell Tumorigenesis. Epigenomics 5:155-65. PMCID: PMC3893889
  31. Miller FL, O’Connor DP, Herring MP, Sailors MH, Jackson AS, Dishman RK, Bray MS (2013) Exercise Dose, Exercise Adherence, and Associated Health Outcomes in the TIGER Study Med Sci Sports Exerc   PMCID: PMC3867583
  32. Lalani SR, Ware SM, Wang X, Zapata G, Tian Q, Franco L, Jiang Z, Bucasas K, Scott DA, Campeau PM, Hanchard N, Umaña L, Cast A, Patel A, Cheung SW, McBride KL, Bray M, Chinault AC, Boggs BA, Huang M, Baker MR, Hamilton S, Towbin J, Jefferies JL, Fernbach SD, Potocki L, Belmont JW (2013) MCTP2 is a dosage sensitive gene required for cardiac outflow tract development. Hum Mol Genet 22:4339-4 PMCID: PMC3792692
  33. Franco LM, Bucasas KL, Wells JM, Niño D, Wang X, Zapata GE, Arden N, Renwick A, Yu P, Quarles JM, Bray MS, Couch RB, Belmont JW, Shaw CA.(2013) Integrative genomic analysis of the human immune response to influenza vaccination. Elife. 2:e00299. PMCID: PMC3713456
  34. Herring MP, Sailors MH, Bray MS (2013) Genetic factors in exercise adoption, adherence and obesity. Obes Rev. 15:29-39 PMCID pending
  35. Jeffreys RM, Inge TH, King W, Jenkins T, Oruc V, Douglas A, Bray MS (2014) Physical Activity Monitoring in Extremely Obese Adolescents from the Teen-LABS Study. J Phys Act Health PMCID pending
  36. Birky T, Bray MS (2014) The Contribution of Circadian Rhythms to Cancer Formation and Mortality  Atlas of Genetics & Cytogenetics in Oncology and Haematology 18:133-145  PMCID pending
  37. Birky T, Bray MS (2014) The Role of Tissue-Specific Clocks in Human Health IUBMB Life  66:34-41  PMCID pending
  38. Inge TH, Zeller MH, Jenkins TM, Helmrath M, Brandt ML, Michalsky MP, Harmon CM, Courcoulas A, Horlick M, Xanthakos SA, Dolan L, Mitsnefes M, Barnett SJ, Buncher R; Teen-LABS Consortium (2014) Perioperative outcomes of adolescents undergoing bariatric surgery: the Teen-Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (Teen-LABS) study. JAMA Pediatr. 168:47-53.  PMCID pending
  39. Dishman RK, Jackson AS, Bray MS (2014) Self-regulation of Exercise Behavior in the TIGER Study. Ann Behav Med. 48:80-91. PMCID pending
  40. Young ME, Brewer RA, Peliciari-Garcia RA, Collins HE, He L, Birky TL, Peden BW, Thompson EG, Ammons BJ, Bray MS, Chatham JC, Wende AR, Yang Q, Chow CW, Martino TA, Gamble KL. (2014) Cardiomyocyte-Specific BMAL1 Plays Critical Roles in Metabolism, Signaling, and Maintenance of Contractile Function of the Heart. J Biol Rhythms. 2014 Aug;29(4):257-76