Joseph Kemnitz

Position title: Professor


Phone: Phone: (608) 263-9726

RESEARCH INTERESTS - Regulation of energy balance and the processes of aging

Headshot of Joe Kemnitz


Address: Primate Center – 1220 Capitol Ct Madison – Madison, WI 53715
Address: 4453 WIMR II – 1111 Highland Ave. – Madison, WI 53705



B.A., University of Wisconsin – Madison
M.S., University of Wisconsin – Madison
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison


My laboratory studies the mechanisms that regulate food intake and energy expenditure and the consequences of caloric imbalances for health and risk of disease. Most of our projects utilize nonhuman primates, especially rhesus monkeys, because these animals share so many important characteristics with our own species.

Recent efforts have focused on changes that occur in middle and late life. Rhesus monkeys achieve adult body size by approximately eight years of age and can live as long as 40 years. Males are, on average, 25% heavier than females during adulthood. During middle age, monkeys of both sexes tend to add body fat and lose lean body mass, and some middle-aged monkeys develop marked obesity. Obese monkeys provide a good model for studying certain complications of human obesity. For example, there are similar abnormalities in glucose and lipid metabolism, blood pressure and hormone levels in the obese animals. Obese monkeys have elevated insulin levels and often impaired glucose tolerance. Their ability to maintain normal blood glucose levels declines as they get older, and some obese monkeys become diabetic in later life.

The effect of restricted food intake on aging is being assessed prospectively in a multidisciplinary study of rhesus monkeys. Half of the animals are being fed a moderately reduced amount of a nutritious diet, while the control monkeys are allowed to eat ad libitum. It is hypothesized that the food-restricted group will exhibit slower rates of change in certain characteristics of aging, including blood glucose regulation. Indeed, after ten years of study the restricted monkeys have greater insulin sensitivity, lower glucose concentrations and improved glucose tolerance. Their metabolism of energy is also affected. Such effects of reduced food intake in these restricted primates are consistent with the retardation of disease and extension of lifespan that has been demonstrated for food restricted non-primate species. If the phenomenon can be confirmed in primates, there would be a clearer potential for manipulating the course of aging by nutritional intervention in humans.

This work is conducted at the Wisconsin Primate Research Center, one of only eight such centers in the nation. Our center is home to approximately 1500 monkeys. Research on the biology of aging is one of the major themes of our overall program, which involves nearly 250 investigators.

Representative Publications

  • Yamada Y, Kemnitz JW, Weindruch R, Anderson RM, Schoeller DA, Colman RJ. Caloric Restriction and Healthy Life Span: Frail Phenotype of Nonhuman Primates in the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center Caloric Restriction Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Apr 8. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Mattison JA, Colman RJ, Beasley TM, Allison DB, Kemnitz JW, Roth GS, Ingram DK, Weindruch R, de Cabo R, Anderson RM. Caloric restriction improves health and survival of rhesus monkeys. Nat Commun. 2017 Jan 17;8:14063.
  • Fowler CG, Chiasson KB, Colman RJ, Kemnitz JW, Beasley TM, Weindruch RH. (2015) Hyperinsulinemia/diabetes, hearing, and aging in the University of Wisconsin calorie restriction monkeys. Hear Res. 328:78-86.
  • Ziegler TE, Kapoor A, Hedman CJ, Binkley N, Kemnitz JW.(2015) Measurement of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(2&3) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(2&3) by tandem mass spectrometry: A primate multispecies comparison. Am J Primatol. 77:801-10.
  • Colman RJ, Beasley TM, Kemnitz JW, Johnson SC, Weindruch R, Anderson RM.(2014) Caloric restriction reduces age-related and all-cause mortality in rhesus monkeys. Nat Commun. 5:3557.
  • Sridharan A, Bendlin BB, Gallagher CL, Oh JM, Willette AA, Alexander AL, Kemnitz JW, Colman RJ, Weindruch RH, Johnson SC.(2014) Effect of age and calorie restriction on corpus callosal integrity in rhesus macaques: a fiber tractography study. Neurosci Lett. 569:38-42.
  • Hedman CJ, Wiebe DA, Dey S, Plath J, Kemnitz JW, Ziegler TE. (2014) Development of a sensitive LC/MS/MS method for vitamin D metabolites: 1,25 Dihydroxyvitamin D2&3 measurement using a novel derivatization agent. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 953-954:62-7.
  • Kolker E, Özdemir V, Martens L, Hancock W, Anderson G, Anderson N, Aynacioglu S, Baranova A, Campagna SR, Chen R, Choiniere J, Dearth SP, Feng WC, Ferguson L, Fox G, Frishman D, Grossman R, Heath A, Higdon R, Hutz MH, Janko I, Jiang L, Joshi S, Kel A, Kemnitz JW, Kohane IS, Kolker N, Lancet D, Lee E, Li W, Lisitsa A, Llerena A, Macnealy-Koch C, Marshall JC, Masuzzo P, May A, Mias G, Monroe M, Montague E, Mooney S, Nesvizhskii A, Noronha S, Omenn G, Rajasimha H, Ramamoorthy P, Sheehan J, Smarr L, Smith CV, Smith T, Snyder M, Rapole S, Srivastava S, Stanberry L, Stewart E, Toppo S, Uetz P, Verheggen K, Voy BH, Warnich L, Wilhelm SW, Yandl G. (2014) Toward more transparent and reproducible omics studies through a common metadata checklist and data publications. OMICS. 18:10-4.
  • Yamada, Y., Colman, R.J., Kemnitz, J.W., Baum, S.T., Anderson, R.M., Richard Weindruch, R., Schoeller, D.A. Long-term calorie restriction decreases metabolic cost of movement and prevents decrease of physical activity during aging in rhesus monkeys, Experimental Gerontology (2013)
  • Sridharan, A., Pehar, M., Salamat, M.S., Pugh, T.D., Bendlin, B.B., Willette, A.A., Anderson, R.M., Kemnitz, J.W., Colman, R.J., Weindruch R.H., Pugielli, L., Johnson, S.C. (2013) Calorie restriction attenuates astrogliosis but not amyloid plaque load in aged rhesus macaques: a preliminary quantitative imaging study. Brain Research 2508:1-8
  • Sridharan, A., Willette, A.A., Bendlin, B.B., Alexander, A.L., Coe, C.L., Voytko, M.L., Colman, R.J., Kemnitz, J.W., Weindruch, R.H., Johnson, S.C. (2012) Brain volumetric and microstructural correlates of executive and motor performance in aged rhesus monkeys. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 2012;4:31. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2012.00031
  • Willette, A.A., Bendlin, B.B., Colman, R.J., Kastman, E.K., Field, A.S., Alexander, A.L., Sridharan, A., Allison, D.B., Anderson, R., Voytko, M.L., Kemnitz, J.W., Weindruch, R.H., & Johnson, S. (2012) Calorie restriction reduces the influence of glucoregulatory dysfunction on regional brain volume in aged rhesus monkeys. Diabetes 61:1036-1042
  • Hofer-Inteeworn, N., Panciera, D.L., Monroe, W. E., Saker, K.E., Hegstad Davies, R., Refsal, K., & Kemnitz, J.W. (2012) The effect of hypothyroidism on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.American Journal of Veterinary Research 73:529-538
  • Hall, K.D., Heymsfield, S.B., Kemnitz, J.W., Klein, S., Schoeller, D.A., & Speakman, J.R. (2012) Energy balance and its components: Implications for body weight regulation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 95:989-994
  • McCarty C.A., Berg, R.L., Welter, J.D., Kitchner, T.E., & Kemnitz, J.W. (2012) A novel gene-environment interaction involved in endometriosis. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 116:61-63
  • Swanson, C.R, Joers, V., Bondarenko, V., Brunner, K., Simmons, H.A., Ziegler, T. E., Kemnitz, J.W., Johnson, J.A., & Emborg, M.E. (2011) The PPAR-g agonist pioglitazone modulates inflammation and induces neuroprotection in parkinsonian monkeys. Journal of Neuroinflammation 8:91-105
  • Klimentidid, Y.C., Beasley, T.M., Lin, H-Y., Murati, G., Glass, G.E., Guyton, M., Newton, W., Jorgensen, M., Heymsfield, S.B., Kemnitz, J., Fairbamnks, L., & Allison, D.A. (2011) Canaries in the coal mine: A cross-species analysis of the plurality of obesity epidemics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) 278:1626-1632
  • Kemnitz, J.W. (2011) Calorie restriction and aging in nonhuman primates. ILAR Journal 52(1):66-77
  • Fowler, C.G., Chiasson, K.B., Leslie, T.H., Thomas, D., Beasley, T.M., Kemnitz, J.W., & Weindruch, R. (2010). Auditory function in rhesus monkeys: Effects of aging and caloric restriction in the Wisconsin monkeys five years later. Hearing Research, 261(1-2), 75-81.
  • Colman, R.J., Anderson, R.M., Johnson, S.C., Kastman, E.K., Kosmatka, K.J., T. Beasley, T.M., Allison, D.B., Cruzen, C., Simmons, H.A., Kemnitz, J.W., & Weindruch, R. (2009). Caloric restriction delays disease onset and mortality in rhesus monkeys. Science, 325, 201-204
  • Lin, J., Kennedy, S.H., Svarovsky, T., Rogers, J., Kemnitz, J.W., Xu, A., Zondervan, K.T. (2009). High-quality genomic DNA extraction from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded samples deparaffinized using mineral oil. Analytical Biochemistry, 395(2), 265-267
  • Fowler, C.G., Chiasson, K.B., Hart, D.B., Beasley, T.M., Kemnitz, J., & Weindruch, R. (2008). Tympanometry in rhesus monkeys: Effects of aging and caloric restriction. Int. J. Audiol., 47(4), 209-14.
  • Zhou, R., Bruns, C.M., Bird, I.M., Kemnitz, J.W., Goodfriend, T.L., Dumesic, D.A., & Abbott, D.H. (2007). Pioglitazone improves insulin action and normalizes menstrual cycles in a majority of prenatally androgenized female rhesus monkeys. Reprod. Toxicol., 23(3), 438-48
  • Raman, A., Ramsey, J.J., Kemnitz, J.W., Baum, S.T., Newton, W., Coleman, R.J., Weindruch, R., Beasley, M.T., & Schoeller, D.A. (2007). Influences of calorie restriction and age on energy expenditure in the rhesus monkeys. Am. J. Physiol., 292, E101-6
  • Raman, A., Baum, S.T., Colman, R.J., Kemnitz, J.W., Weindruch, R., & Schoeller, D.A. (2007). Metabolizable energy intake during long-term calorie restriction in rhesus monkeys. Exp. Gerontol., 42(10), 988-94.
  • Blanc, S., Colman, R., Kemnitz, J., Weindruch, R., Baum, S., Ramsey, J., & Schoeller, D. (2005). Assessment of nutritional status in rhesus monkeys: comparison of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and stable isotope dilution. J. Med. Primatol., 34(3), 130-8.
  • Raman, A., Colman, R.J., Cheng, Y., Kemnitz, J.W., Baum, S.T., Weindruch, R., & Schoeller, D.A. (2005). Reference body composition in adult rhesus monkeys: Glucoregulatory and anthropometric indices. J. Gerontol. A. Biol. Sci. Med. Sci., 60(12), 1518-24.
  • Ramsey, J.J., Kemnitz, J.W., Newton, W., Hagopian, K., Patterson, T.A., & Swick, A.G. (2005). Food intake in rhesus monkeys following central administration of orexins. Regul. Pept., 124(1-3), 209-14.
  • Bruns, C.M., & Kemnitz, J.W. (2004). Sex hormones, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes mellitus. ILAR J., 45(2), 160-9