Theme: Metabolism

Invited Speakers with the Theme of Metabolism

Symposium – Stress-Related Neuroendocrine Mechanism of Metabolism

Dr. Tracy BALE, University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA

Epigenetic Mechanisms in Maternal Stress Programmed Metabolic Outcomes

Tracy L. Bale is a Professor and Director of the Center for Brain Development and Maternal Mental Health in the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Her research focuses on understanding the role of stress dysregulation in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases, and the sex differences that underlie disease vulnerability using mice as the model organism. She is particularly interested in developing models of parental stress and the germ cell involvement in transgenerational epigenetic programming of neurodevelopment. She serves on many internal and external advisory committees, panels, and boards and is currently a Reviewing Editor at the Journal of Neuroscience and serves as Chair of the NNRS CSR study section. She has been the recipient of several awards for her research in this area including the career development award for early career achievement and promise by the Society for Neuroscience, the Richard E. Weitzman Memorial award as exceptionally promising young investigator award by the Endocrine Society, the Medtronic Award from the Society for Women’s Health Research for outstanding research that has led to the improvement of women’s health, and the Daniel H. Efron award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacolgy.     

Dr. Zane ANDREWS, Monash University, Australia
Neuroendocrine Mechanism in Stress and Feeding

Associate Professor Andrews received his PhD in New Zealand at the University of Otago in 2003 and has 18 years’ experience in the field of neuroendocrinology and neuroscience. He undertook postdoctoral training at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA (2004-2008). He moved Monash University in Melbourne, Australia in 2009 and established his own laboratory. Dr Andrews is currently a National Health Medical Research Council Career Development Fellow Level II.  

His group studies how food, and the lack of food, affects the brain and behaviour. It is becoming increasingly clear that a state of hunger elicits numerous effects on various neuronal populations in the brain, not just those related to food intake. The Andrews’ lab is interested in how neural circuits detect hunger and respond by integrating with additional neural circuits to link states of hunger with mood and motivation. The complex interplay between such connected circuits may underlie co-morbidities of mental illness with metabolic dysfunction in disease such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, obesity, Prader-Willi syndrome, binge-eating and food addictions.

His group primarily focuses on the hormone ghrelin or ghrelin receptors in the brain, as a key hormonal signal system conveying hunger to the brain. Their research over a number of years shows that ghrelin and ghrelin receptors in the brain regulate appetite, blood glucose and many non-food associated behaviours such as anxiety and neuroprotection. His group uses genetic models and modern neuroscience techniques control or monitor neuronal populations responding to or affected by hunger states.

Dr. Teresa MORALES, Universidad Nacional, Mexico

Teresa Morales received her Ph.D. in Physiology at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1990 and received postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Neuronal Structure and Function at Salk Institute. She then moved to the Department of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology of the Institute for Neurobiology at UNAM in Querétaro, México where she is Associated Professor and has served as Coordinator of the Graduate Program and Chair of her Department. Our research goal is to understand how hormones, stress and reproductive experience impact neuroplasticity in key brain areas: the hypothalamus, hippocampus and olfactory bulb. Our research uses biochemical, molecular and neuroanatomy approaches in rodent models to identify specific molecules, such as hypothalamic peptides, affecting communication between cells in those brain areas and to learn how synthesis and secretion of these molecules are regulated under stressful and particular reproductive conditions.

Dr. Alfonso ABIZAID, Carleton Univeresity, Canada

Ghrelin at the Intersection of Stress and Metabolism

Prof. Alfonso Abizaid obtained his PhD in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology from Concordia University, and trained as a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Tamas Horvath at Yale University, school of Medicine. Currently, Prof. Abizaid is a full professor at in the Department of Neuroscience at Carleton University in Ottawa, ON Canada. His research interests include the neuroendocrine regulation of feeding, energy balance and reproduction. Current funded projects focus on the effects of the hormone ghrelin on the brain systems implicated in reward seeking behaviors, the role of ghrelin in the homeostatic mechanisms associated with the stress response, and the metabolic effects of early life exposure to endocrine disruptors. Prof. Abizaid is also the President of the Society for Neuroscience Ottawa Chapter, a science advocacy and outreach group supporting the promotion of science translation in Canada’s capital region.

Symposium – Role of Hypothalamic ‘Inflammation’ on Obestiy

Dr. Julie CHOWEN, Hospital Infantil Universitario Nino Jesus, Spain

Physiological Role of Astrocytes in Metabolic Control

Julie Chowen received her Ph.D. in Physiology at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1990. She then moved to Madrid, Spain where she was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Luis Miguel García-Segura at the Cajal Institute, where her interest in glial cells was sparked. After 9 years at the Cajal Institute, she moved to the Department of Endocrinology at the Hospital Infantil Universitario Niño Jesús in Madrid where she is Senior Investigator and Director of the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology.  The laboratory has a special interest in childhood obesity, including clinical, basic and translational studies. One of the current focuses of her research centers on the physiological and pathophysiological role of astrocytes in metabolic control.

Dr. Kate ELLACOTT, University of Exeter Medical School, UK

Astrocyte Inflammation and Energy Homeostasis

Kate Ellacott is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Neuroscience at the University of Exeter (UK). Her long standing research interest is understanding how the brain controls food intake and body weight. Currently, her work is focused on understanding how different cell types in the brain (neurons, microglia, tanycytes, astrocytes and endothelial cells) coordinate and interact to regulate these processes. Published work from the Ellacott lab has demonstrated a potential role for astrocytes in modulating feeding behaviour in response to acute exposure to a high-fat diet. On-going work in the group is focused on understanding how astrocytes in different regions of the brain are involved in nutrient sensing and the regulation of neuronal circuits which regulate energy homeostasis. Currently research in the Ellacott Lab is supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (UK), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the British Society for Neuroendocrinology.

Dr. Chun Xia YI, Academic Medical Center, The Netherlands

Hypothalamic Neuronmicroglial Interaction in Obesity and Diabetes

Dr. Chun-Xia Yi received her MD from Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, P. R. of China in 2004 and her PhD from the University of Amsterdam 2010. Currently she is working as an Assistant Professor at the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Her laboratory is focusing on unravelling the interactions between microglia and neurons in maintaining functional hypothalamic neural circuits in control of energy homeostasis. Dr. Yi’s research has identified dietary sugar as a key player in obesogenic diet-induced hypothalamic microglial activation. She revealed how the lipoprotein lipase-gated lipid metabolism programs the microglial immune defence. In addition, she identified the pathway mediating the effects of microglial cytokine on neuronal mitochondrial bioenergetics and dynamics. Her current work aims at understanding how individual microglial intracellular metabolic pathways specifically interfere with neighbouring neuronal function in the hypothalamus.

Dr. Josh THALER, University of Washington, USA

Hypothalamic Gliosis and Obesity

Dr. Thaler studied Biochemistry at Harvard followed by obtaining an MD and PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute. After moving to the University of Washington, he completed an Internal Medicine residency and endocrinology fellowship, during which he trained with Dr. Michael Schwartz, a world leader in the study of energy homeostasis and glucose regulation. He joined the faculty of the UW in 2010 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute.

Dr. Thaler’s focus is the hypothalamic regulation of energy homeostasis and the alterations to this system during obesity pathogenesis. He specifically investigates the process of hypothalamic inflammation and its relationship to high fat diet-induced weight gain. He identified an important role for glial cells (astrocytes and microglia) in modulating the neuronal regulation of energy homeostasis. In particular, he discovered that glial cells promote diet-induced damage to critical hypothalamic neurons thereby increasing susceptibility to obesity and diabetes. His current work aims to identify glial factors that can be developed as novel targets for metabolic therapeutics.

Symposium – The Brain Reward Pathway

Dr. Susanne LA FLEUR, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Fat and Sugar Intake: A Matter of Timing and Choice

Susanne la Fleur is Professor in Neurobiology of Energy Metabolism at the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, and also leads an honorary research group at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, in Amsterdam. She obtained her Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Groningen and her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Her PhD-thesis work was on the regulation of the daily rhythm in blood glucose, with focus on the hypothalamic biological clock and autonomic liver innervation. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof Mary Dallman (Dept. Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, USA) she studied interactions between stress and energy metabolism. In 2004, she returned to the Netherlands, first as a postdoc in the laboratory of Prof Roger Adan (Utrecht, the Netherlands), and in 2008 she was recruited to Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. Her translational research aims to unravel the mechanistic link between diet composition and the development of obesity and diabetes focusing on the role of the brain.

Dr. Herbert HERZOG, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia

Role of NPY Signalling in the Development of Stress-Induced Obesity

Prof Herbert Herzog is the Chair in Neuroendocrinology at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, AUSTRALIA. In his early years he studied Chemistry, switching to Biochemistry for his PhD, which he obtained from the University of Innsbruck (Austria).

In 1991, Prof Herzog joined the Garvan Institute where he studies the role of NPY and other family members like PYY and pancreatic polypeptide (PP), investigating the numerous different functions of these important molecules. In his career he has been publishing more then 270 papers on that subject, which are cited over 16000 times thereby establishing himself as an international leader in this field. His achievements have been recognised through invitations to present keynote and plenary lectures at numerous national and international conferences as well as invitations to present at seminar series of different national and international organisations including industry. He received the ‘Victor Mutt Award” from the International Regulatory Peptide Society in 2009 and was invited to give the ANS plenary lecture in 2010, the highest reward given by the society. Prof Herzog’s current work focuses on the brain’s role in the regulation of eating behaviour, stress and glucose homeostasis. He is also interested in how homeostatic processes that regulate bodyweight are coordinated with other homeostatic processes in the body, like the one that control bone and fat mass.


Peripheral Lipid Sensing and the Regulation of Reward

A natural of São Paulo, Brazil, Ivan de Araújo attended the University of Brasilia, from where he received his BA (Philosophy) and MA (Mathematics) degrees. He went on to perform additional post-graduate work at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied neural network models of spatial cognition. In 2003 he completed his doctorate in Physiology in the laboratory of Edmund T. Rolls at Oxford University, where he studied human brain representations of taste-odor combinations, fat perception, and thirst. He came to the USA in 2004 to perform post-doctoral work in the laboratories of Sid Simon and Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University, where he studied the responses of neuronal populations to changes in physiological state in both rats and mice. Since 2007 he has been a Professor of Psychiatry and Physiology at Yale University and a Fellow at the J.B. Pierce Foundation, where his main research focus has been the gut-brain axis. His main research efforts concentrate on identifying the neural circuits by which sensory cells of the gastrointestinal tract convey information to the pleasure and reward centers of the brain.

Dr. Stéphanie FULTON, University of Montreal, Canada 

Integration of Metabolic and Nutritional Signals by Dopamine Neurons; Regulation of Reward

Stéphanie Fulton received her graduate training in behavioural neurobiology at Concordia University. Her doctoral work investigated the impact of metabolic hormones and peptides on brain reward circuitry. Her discoveries during this period included the pivotal finding that the adipose-derived hormone leptin modulates brain reward circuitry. In the laboratory of Dr Jeffrey Flier at Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral fellow, her research identified the influence of leptin on mesolimbic dopamine tone and function. In 2008, Dr Fulton began her independent career as a principle investigator at the Hospital Research Center of the Université de Montréal. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Université de Montréal and member of the Center for Studies in Behavioural Neurobiology and the Montreal Diabetes Research Center. Her laboratory studies the neural and behavioural processes that give rise to reward and emotional states. One line of investigation aims to understand the neural pathways and signalling mechanisms that underlie the rewarding effects of food and physical activity and their contribution to obesity and metabolic disease. Another focus is to identify the neural and metabolic adaptations that occur in response to consumption of palatable, high-energy foods and their role in the development of obesity and mood disorders. Dr. Fulton holds a CIHR New Investigator award and was awarded the 2014 Young Investigator award of the FRQS Cardiometabolic, Obesity, Diabetes Research network.

Symposium – The Gut-Brain Axis and Metabolism

Dr. Louise OLOFSSON, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Microbiome and Metabolism

Louise Olofsson obtained her PhD in endocrinology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2007. Here her research focused on the role of the adipose tissue in obesity-associated metabolic diseases. In 2008, she joined Professor Allison Xu’s group at the University of California, San Francisco for her postdoctoral training. In Professor Xu’s lab, Dr Olofsson focused her research on the hypothalamic regulation of energy balance. Since 2013, she has a senior researcher position at the Wallenberg Laboratory, Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenburg. Her research aims at understanding how the gut microbiota modulates the central energy balance regulation.

Dr. Fiona GRIBBLE, University of Cambridge, UK 

Nutrient Sensing by Gut Enteroendocrine Cells

Fiona Gribble is Professor of Endocrine Physiology at the University of Cambridge, Deputy Head of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, and an Honorary Consultant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. She runs a joint research group with Dr Frank Reimann focussed on signalling pathways in enteroendocrine cells and the gut-brain-pancreatic axis, with a view to identifying novel pathways that could be exploited to modulate the gut hormone axis for the treatment of diabetes and obesity. She is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, and her work has been recognised by the receipt of the Lister Research Prize (2006), the Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Lecture (2008), the EASD Minkowski Prize (2010) and the Viktor Mutt Medal (2012). She was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.

Dr. Darleen SANDOVAL, University of Michigan, USA

Mechanisms Underlying Weight Loss in Bariatric Surgery

Darleen Sandoval is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in Exercise Science at Arizona State University and received a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Vanderbilt University in the Division of Endocrinology. Her research has focused on understanding the role of a peptide called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) on glucose homeostasis, how dysregulation of GLP-1 is involved with the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and how increases in GLP-1 seen with bariatric surgery contribute to diabetes resolution. Her laboratory has utilized tissue-specific gain- or loss-of-function of the GLP-1 protein and/or its receptor using Cre/loxp technology. Her work has found that CNS GLP-1 receptors are sufficient, but pancreatic GLP-1 receptors are necessary for normal glucose regulation. Additionally her work has found that intestinal secretion of GLP-1 is dispensable and instead that pancreatic GLP-1 production is necessary for regulation of insulin secretion. Dr. Sandoval is a member of the American Diabetes Association where she serves as co-chair of the recently instituted Women’s Interprofessional Network and the Endocrine Society where she serves on the Annual Meeting Steering Committee.

Dr. Tricia TAN, Imperial College London, UK

Combination Gut Hormones and the “Medical Bypass”

Prof Tricia Tan (BSc MB ChB FRCP PhD FRCPath) is a Consultant in Metabolic Medicine and Endocrinology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. She graduated from the University of St Andrews in 1993 and qualified in medicine from the University of Manchester in 1996. She trained in Diabetes and Endocrinology in London and studied with Prof Stephen Bloom for her doctoral research on pancreatic polypeptide. Her research has concentrated on characterizing the physiological effects of human gut hormones on appetite, energy expenditure and glucose homeostasis. A major second theme has been the rational design of gut hormone analogues for therapy of obesity and diabetes, and early Phase clinical trials. Her clinical interests lie in the treatment of obesity with bariatric surgery, and the diagnosis and management of neuroendocrine tumours. She is the Director of the UK Supraregional Assay Service Endocrine Laboratory for Gut Hormones, and serves as the Clinical Lead, Biochemistry, for North West London Pathology Consortium.

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