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Dr. Claudia Grillo receives National Science Foundation (NSF) award for $900,000

Dr. Claudia A. Grillo of the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience was recently awarded a 4-year, $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to characterize a novel brain circuit that contributes to the control of feeding behavior. Many studies agree that the fat-derived hormone leptin controls food intake through activation of leptin receptors expressed in the hypothalamus, a region that is an important integration center for ingestive behaviors in the mammalian brain. In addition, recent reports have provided evidence that leptin receptors expressed in other brain regions may also regulate food intake. This includes studies by Dr. Grillo which suggest that there is an important role of leptin receptors expressed in the raphe nucleus. The raphe nucleus is the primary source of serotonin (5-HT) in the central nervous system and activation of circuits that originate in the raphe nucleus are proposed to mediated the anorectic properties of 5-HT. Dr. Grillo’s initial studies have determined that activation of leptin receptors in the raphe nucleus increases 5-HT levels in the hypothalamus. As such, Dr. Grillo’s findings support the concept that leptin is acting at multiple target sites in the brain, including serotonergic neurons in the raphe nucleus, to regulate feeding behavior. This NSF-sponsored project includes a Summer Internship Program that will provide an integrated research experience for undergraduate students, particularly students who will be recruited from populations that are under-represented in science and medicine. These research experiences will provide such students with experiential learning opportunities that will create a foundation for future success in biomedical or basic research science.


May 25th, 2017