Stress, Neuroscience, and Obesity: Past Reflections and Current Directions

Welcome & Introduction

Nancy Adler, PhD
Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Director, Center for Health and Community
University of California, San Francisco

Nancy E. Adler, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology, Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, where she is also Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and Director of the Center for Health and Community. She received a BA from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University. After serving as Assistant and Associate Professor at UC, Santa Cruz, she came to UCSF to initiate a graduate program in Health Psychology. She has served as director of that program, an NIMH-sponsored postdoctoral program in “Psychology and Medicine: Translational Research on Stress, Behavior and Disease,” and a new postdoctoral “Health and Society Scholars Program” funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Adler is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association. She has served as President of the Division of Population and Environmental Psychology of the APA and received its Superior Service Award; currently she serves on an APA Taskforce on Socioeconomic status and health. She is also a member of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and the Society for Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Adler has been awarded the UCSF Chancellor’s Award for Advancement of Women and the George Sarlo Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and the Outstanding Contribution to Health Psychology award from the American Psychological Association, Division of Health Psychology. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and serves on the IOM Membership Committee and on the Report Review Committee of the National Academies of Science. She is currently the Chair of an IOM committee on psychosocial services for cancer survivors. She was named a National Associate of the National Academies. She is also a member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the NIH. Dr. Adler’s earlier research examined the utility of decision models for understanding health behaviors with particular focus on reproductive health. This work identified both determinants of consequences of unwanted pregnancy. Her current work examines the pathways from socioeconomic status (SES) to health. As director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on SES and Health, she coordinates research spanning social, psychological and biological mechanisms by which SES influences health. Within the network she has focused on the role of subjective social status in health.

Stress, Gene Therapy, and Psychiatric Disorders

Robert Sapolsky
John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor
Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Stanford University School of Medicine

HPA Axis Chair

Nancy Levin, PhD
Director, Biology
CovX Research LLC
San Diego, CA

Nancy Levin earned her Ph.D. from UCSF in 1987, where she had the great fortune of training with Mary Dallman, Ph.D. Her thesis work focused on the role of the CNS in the regulation of adrenalectomy-induced ACTH secretion by glucocorticoids. Next, Dr. Levin completed post-doctoral training in molecular neuroendocrinology under the direction of Dr. James L. Roberts at the Fishberg Research Center for Neurobiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. Following a three-year Assistant Professorship at Mount Sinai, Nancy shifted her career focus to the discovery of novel therapeutics for metabolic and endocrine disease, holding positions of increasing scientific responsibility at Genentech, Inc. and then at Amgen, Inc. In 1999, Dr. Levin became Director of Pharmacology at Trega Biosciences, followed by similar positions at MitoKor, Inc. and X-Ceptor Therapeutics. Since 2005, Dr. Levin has been Director of Biology at CovX Research, where she has overseen the discovery and preclinical evaluation of antibody-based therapeutics for oncology and metabolic disease. These efforts have resulted in clinical testing of two novel anti-angiogenic therapeutics for cancer, with a third therapeutic for diabetes currently beginning IND-enabling safety evaluation for an anticipated first-in-human dosing in the fall of 2008.

The HPA Axis and the Dallmanite Legacy: Why Are We Here?

Bill Engeland, PhD
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
University of Minnesota

Bill Engeland, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. He completed his Ph.D. in Endocrinology at UCSF working under the guidance of Mary Dallman. Following postdoctoral training at UCSF and Johns Hopkins, he served for 12 years on the faculty at Brown University before migrating to Minnesota. The focus of the laboratory is to delineate neuroendocrine mechanisms for the control of adrenal secretion of glucocorticoids. Experiments are directed toward defining the central and peripheral neural circuitry that mediates hypothalamic control of stress-induced and circadian changes in glucocorticoids. In addition to monitoring plasma ACTH and corticosteroid responses, the activity of hypothalamic neurons is assessed by immunolabeling for the immediate early gene product, Fos and by in vivo microdialysis. Changes in neural and endocrine function are determined after acute and chronic activation of stress pathways. The goal of this work is to identify neural circuits controlling HPA activity that could be modulated to reduce the deleterious effects of stress.

Glucocorticoid Feedback: NOT Plain and Simple -- An Historical Perspective

Charles Wilkinson, PhD
Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of Washington

Currently with the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Received my Ph.D. in physiological psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara, and then was fortunate to land a postdoctoral fellowship with Mary Dallman, who taught me almost everything I know about the HPA axis and about how to be a scientist. Primary research interest is in HPA function in aging and Alzheimer’s disease, including feedback inhibition, corticosteroid receptor gene expression and regulation, and relationships between the HPA axis and cognitive function. Additional research interests include HPA function in PTSD and depression, cytokine-glucocorticoid interactions in the CNS, and associations between glucocorticoid and insulin in autonomic function and in cognition.

HPA Axis: Feedback and Facilitation from the Hindbrain

Deborah Scheuer, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Psychiology and Functional Genomics
University of Florida, Gainesville

Debbie Scheuer received her Ph.D. from the Department of UCSF Physiology. She did her graduate work in the laboratory of David Ramsay and Terry Thrasher. Mary, who was on her dissertation committee, also provided fantastic mentoring. Currently she is an Associate Professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville in the Deptartment of Physiology and Functional Genomics. She is investigating central actions of glucocorticoids on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine regulation during acute and chronic stress.

CRF and Neuroscience Chair

Abby Ginsberg, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

Abby Ginsberg is currently a Post-Doc with Mary studying the involvement of cannabinoids and their receptors in glucocorticoid negative feedback. She received her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2004 under the mentorship of Bob Spencer, and was first introduced to the field of neuroscience while working in the lab of Harvey Grill at the University of Pennsylvania.

Stressed or Relaxed: Where Do Your Genes Fit?

Aditi Bhargava, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Surgery, Center for Neurology of Digestive Diseases
University of California, San Francisco

Gut-brain interactions in stress-mediated inflammation: We study the corticotropin-releasing factor family of neuropeptides (CRF and urocortins), which is best known for its role in regulating endocrine stress responses. It plays a pivotal role in the homeostasis of a diverse range of processes, including vascular tone, cardiac function, immune cell activation, feeding, and gastrointestinal (GI) motility. Our hypothesis is that local balance between Ucn and their receptors determines the state of inflammation. Using a combination of molecular biology, RNAi, pharmacological, and genetic (knockout mice) approaches, our goals are to determine the roles of CRF and urocortins in the genesis of stress-induced inflammation. We are investigating the possibility of manipulating the expression of Ucns, CRF and their receptors locally by RNAi to ameliorate inflammation for therapeutic use in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Colchicine to Appetite Suppressants: Time Flies When You're Playing in the Hypothalamus

SuJean Choi, PhD
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences
Marquette University

Currently, we investigate the influence of serotonin in the hypothalamic paraventricular nuclei on neuronal corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) mRNA expression and feeding behavior in rats. Paraventricular CRF neurons are important mediators in the control of feeding. Similarly, drugs that stimulate synaptic serotonin transmission in the brain are also well known to inhibit feeding. Remarkably, there have been no definitive studies to date demonstrating that serotonin-associated drugs may indeed suppress feeding by stimulating CRF mRNA and protein production. Thus, we hypothesize that there exists a functional link between serotonin and CRF and their respective neurons residing in the hypothalamus.

Overall, these studies investigate functional activity and responsivity of brain signals participating in the neuroanatomical circuitry of feeding and metabolism. The results of these studies will provide a broader picture of how organisms regulate and maintain their energy balance and respond to their external environment, as well as provide a basic science backdrop to better understand the clinical pathologies of obesity, eating disorders, metabolic disorders, and depression and perhaps contribute to their future therapeutic strategies.

Cortisol without ACTH... Again

Charles Wood, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics
University of Florida

The research performed in my laboratory is focused on the mechanisms controlling the responses to hypoxia and hypotension in the fetus in utero and on the mechanisms controlling the timing of birth. Present work in this laboratory focuses on three projects: 1) the interaction of prostanoids with the cardiovascular and endocrine controlling elements of the brain and the role of the locally-generated prostanoids in brain in the control of fetal stress responses (hypoxia and hypotension); 2) the influence of estrogen on the fetal brain regions which are important for cardiovascular and endocrine responsiveness to stress; and 3) the biological activity of sulfoconjugated estrogens in fetal plasma. This laboratory has reported that prostaglandins generated within the fetal brain exert a profound influence on fetal reflex responsiveness to stress. The ultimate goal of the research in my laboratory is to identify interventional strategies which can manipulate the timing of birth which avoiding the pitfalls encountered with current treatments.

The HPA in Pregnancy: From Feedback to Fetal Growth

Maureen Keller-Wood, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacodynamics
University of Florida

My research tests hypotheses relating to the regulation of the HPA and actions of cortisol during pregnancy. My overall hypothesis is that increased maternal cortisol contributes to the normal physiology of the mother and fetus, and as such, is neither a derangement nor a response to maternal stress. My past research focused on changes in cortisol feedback regulation and responses to stress during pregnancy and with progesterone treatment. Using a model of reduced maternal cortisol in sheep, we found that increased maternal cortisol is homeostatic during pregnancy, and that reduced maternal cortisol alters maternal volume control and fetal growth and fluid balance. We are currently testing the hypotheses that maternally-derived cortisol can effect function and maturation of the fetal lung and heart through the abundant mineralocorticoid receptors found in these tissues. We are also beginning studies to test the hypothesis that maternal cortisol and progesterone interact in the regulation of maternal baroreflex via actions in the brain and through reset of maternal blood volume and studies to test hypotheses relating to mechanisms of cortisol effects on fetal growth.

Stress and Moms: What Does Really Matter?

Claire-Dominique Walker, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology
McGill University

Research Interests: 1) Early Developmental events that shape the HPA axis in the longterm, role of metabolic regulators (leptin, insulin) on brain function including hippocampus, HPA axis and mesocorticolimbic dopamine system. 2) Stress and the HPA axis in mothers during lactation, role of the infant at regulating maternal physiology.

The Effect of Chronic and Acute Maternal Stress on Expression of Placental Barrier Genes in the Rat

Paul M. Plotsky, PhD
GlaxoSmithKline Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Emory University

After graduating from the University of Kansas (1974) with degrees in Biology and Psychology and a minor in Chemistry, Dr. Plotsky continued working in the laboratory of Ralph N. Adams, Ph.D., on the development of postmortem and in vivo neurochemical assay techniques. He obtained his Ph.D. in Physiology/Neuroendocrinology and Neuroscience from Emory University (1981). After postdoctoral studies at Brown University in Providence, RI, with Donald Gann, M.D., he accepted a faculty appointment at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, where he worked on the central regulation of growth, reproduction, and the stress response. Plotsky was lured back to the Emory University in 1992, where he is now the GlaxoSmithKline Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He has adjunct appointments in Cell Biology, Psychology, and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. His research is focused on the interaction between genes and the perinatal environment in shaping the developing nervous system. Using rodent and nonhuman primate models in collaboration with clinical research, he has developed animal models of vulnerability to a variety of psychiatric and medical diseases. Extensive characterization of these models (behavioral assessments, gene expression profiling, neuromorphology, retroviral gene transfer, transgenic animals) have revealed fundamental changes in neurocircuits underlying perception and processing of environmental stimuli as well as in the responsiveness to these events. These models permit a detailed behavioral to molecular analysis of changes associated with vulnerability to resilience states and provide avenues for development of new therapeutic interventions.

Food/Stress Basic Science Chair

Norm Pecoraro, PhD
Associate Research Specialist
University of California, San Francisco

From 2006 to present I have worked as an Associate Research Specialist in Mary Dallman's lab at UCSF working on HPA axis regulation, brain, stress, feeding, circadian rhythms, incentive relativity, & behavior systems. Previously I did similar work as a Postdoctoral Fellow. I received my PhD at Indiana University in 2001 under William Timberlake doing interdisciplinary research in the areas of learning, motivation, circadian rhythms, and drugs of abuse. As an undergraduate I conducted archival research on the development of a gestural language, American Sign Language, in chimpanzees cross-fostered by humans with Drs. R. Allen Gardner & Beatrix T. Gardner at the University of Nevada Reno.

The Maladaptive Response to Eating Fat and Sugar

Susanne E. la Fleur, PhD
Assistant Professor
Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience
Utrecht, the Netherlands

Susanne la Fleur is Assistant Professor at the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She studied Biology at the University of Groningen and received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. For three years, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Mary Dallman. During those years, the idea was born to mimic human obesity more closely by subjecting rats to choices of palatable foods in addition to rats’ normal pellet chow. Today, Susanne’s research team studies the mechanisms underlying feeding in rats subjected to a diet with fat and sugar with special focus on its motivational and rewarding aspects. Furthermore, her interest involves the role of the central nervous system in the metabolic consequences of obesity such as diet-induced insulin resistance. To accomplish these research goals, her team uses well-established behavioral paradigms and pharmacological and molecular techniques including viral tool technology to modulate neuropeptides and receptors site-specifically. Overall, her long-term goal is to understand how the central nervous system integrates information from the periphery important for the development of obesity and associated disorders.

The Diet, Insulin and Corticosterone Metabolic Interplay: Landscapes and Mountain Ranges

James P. Warne, PhD
Diabetes Center
University of California, San Francisco

James Warne got his Ph.D in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Imperial College London under the direction of Julia Buckingham and Glenda Gillies. His first postdoctoral position was within the laboratory of Mary Dallman in the Department of Physiology at the University of California San Francisco, where he studied the interactions between glucocorticoids and insulin in the regulation of dietary choice, with focus from the periphery to the brain via the vagus nerve. He continues to work on the role of insulin, in addition to leptin, in the hypothalamic regulation of food intake and glucose homeostasis via the vagus nerve in the laboratory of Allison Xu within the Diabetes Center of the University of California San Francisco. His studies are using specific transgenic models to manipulate insulin and leptin signaling via the PI3 kinase pathway in agouti-related protein and proopiomelanocortin expressing neurons. Additionally, his studies have examined the mechanisms by which bariatric surgery affects metabolism.

Anxious? Sugar, OR Amylin, Please.

Kevin Laugero, PhD
Assistant Adjunct Professor
Department of Nutrition
University of California, Davis
Research Nutritionist
Western Human Nutrition Research Center

Dr. Laugero, a San Francisco native, received a Bachelor's degree in biological science from California State University Fresno and a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California, Davis. As a National Research Service Award NIH Fellow, Dr. Laugero received his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco where he studied the interrelationships between sugar intake, glucocorticoid feedback, and chronic stress pathways. Subsequently, he spent 4 years in the biotechnology industry as a drug discovery scientist at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. His work at Amylin helped spur a new pharmacotherapeutic focus within the company and a newly formed company, Psylin Neurosciences, Inc. Recently, Dr. Laugero joined the Western Human Nutrition Research Center as a Research Nutritionist and the UC Davis Department of Nutrition as an Assistant Adjunct Professor. Currently, his research program aims to understand the relationship between chronic stress and dietary patterns, particularly as it impacts adherence to the USDA Dietary Guidelines and global strategies geared towards obesity intervention.

AMPK and Feeding from Flies to Man: It's Alimentary, My Dear Dallman

Michelle Bland, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Pennsylvania

I was introduced to stress as a college student when I did my honors research with Bill Engeland at the University of Minnesota. The lab experience itself wasn’t stressful, but I learned the ins and outs of the HPA axis while studying how ACTH regulates adrenal blood flow in rats. From Minnesota, I moved to UCSF, where I trained with Holly Ingraham and Mary Dallman and worked on steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1), a nuclear receptor that regulates steroidogenic gene expression and is essential for adrenal development. I showed that SF-1 haploinsufficiency in mice leads to an early defect in adrenal growth that results in impaired adrenocortical responses to stress. We found that the HPA axis was able to compensate for small adrenal size by driving steroidogenic gene expression to high levels in SF-1 heterozygous adrenals. While I have long been interested in how homeostasis is maintained, my Ph.D. work sparked an interest in how growth is regulated, and I moved east to do my postdoctoral research with Morrie Birnbaum at the University of Pennsylvania. I am now studying how a major cellular energy sensor, the AMP-activated protein kinase, serves as a cell non-autonomous regulator of growth in fruit flies by promoting nutrient intake.

Endocrine/Metabolic Consequences of Fructose Consumption

Peter J. Havel, DVM, PhD
Department of Molecular Biosciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Nutrition
University of California, Davis

Dr. Peter Havel received his veterinary degree and a doctoral degree in Endocrinology from University of California, Davis. Dr. Havel’s research program investigates the regulation of secretion and the actions of hormones involved in energy homeostasis and carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and the involvement of endocrine systems in the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A major focus of the research is the interaction between diet composition (such as dietary fat and fructose) with the endocrine regulation of energy balance and the development of obesity, diabetes, and dyslipidemia/atherosclerosis. Dr. Havel’s laboratory has developed and characterized a new rat model with polygenic, adult onset obesity and type-2 diabetes that is more similar to human type-2 diabetes than existing rat models. His laboratory is using this model, as well as obese insulin-resistant rhesus monkeys with metabolic syndrome/dyslipidemia, to investigate the effects of diet and a number of therapeutic interventions for insulin resistance and diabetes. Dr. Havel also has research projects examining the long-term endocrine and metabolic effects of dietary fructose in non-human primates and in clinical research in humans. He has published more than 100 original papers reporting the results of his research on diabetes and obesity and over 30 review articles and book chapters in this area.

Food/Stress Clinical Studies Chair

Barbara Laraia, PhD, MPH, RD
Assistant Professor
Department of Preventive Medicine
Co-Director, COAST
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Barbara Laraia, PhD, RD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, and Co-Director of COAST, is a public health nutrition investigator with a special interest in the relationships between food policy, the food environment and health. Dr. Laraia was recently recruited to UCSF and COAST from Univ. North Carolina's population health center, and serves as one of the only nutritionist researchers at UCSF. She has expertise in qualitative methods, program evaluation, community-based research and nutritional epidemiology. Her research focuses on household food security status and neighborhood effects on diet, weight, perinatal outcomes, and other maternal child health issues, especially among vulnerable populations. Her current projects include: measurement issues of the food and physical activity environments; influences of the food environment on diet and weight among postpartum women; and how perceived food scarcity is related to eating behaviors, psychological stress, and psychosocial functioning.

Stress and Comfort Food in Rats and People

Elissa Epel, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
University of California, San Francisco

Josh Woolley, PhD

Elissa Epel is an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF. Elissa received her training in psychology from Stanford and Yale University, with a focus on health psychology and behavioral medicine. She is a faculty member of the Health Psychology program, the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and Director of Research for the new UCSF center on obesity (COAST). She has longstanding interests in the impact of stress physiology on ‘metabolic health,’ including food intake, insulin resistance, central obesity, and premature aging at the cellular level (using the telomere/telomerase maintenance system). Elissa aims to understand, from a psychological and biological perspective, factors that promote resilience from the negative effects of chronic stress, and how health enhancing interventions might enhance regulation in these metabolic systems. Mary Dallman’s work has been a guiding light to help illuminate data from human models of chronic stress, HPA axis profiles, and obesity, and continues to serve as both compass and source of inspiration.

Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Stress Eating and Abdominal Fat

Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD
Assistant Professor
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

Jennifer Daubenmeir is Assistant Professor at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in the Department of Medicine at UCSF. She is interested in the effects of mind-body practices on eating behavior and stress-related chronic disease processes related to obesity. Dr. Daubenmier was trained as a researcher in Social Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She conducted a postdoctoral fellowship with UCSF Clinical Professor of Medicine, Dean Ornish, MD, in which she assisted in the evaluation of clinical trials to examine effects of lifestyle interventions on quality of life and disease markers in patients with heart disease and prostate cancer. She received a second postdoctoral fellowship at the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment with Elissa Epel, PhD to develop expertise in the psychoneuroendocrinology of stress and its relation to food intake and obesity. Most recently, Dr. Daubenmier received a Career Development Award (K01) through NIH/NCCAM to acquire additional training and experience to become an independent clinical trial researcher in mind-body medicine with special relevance to obesity. This research aims to determine the benefits of integrating mindfulness practices into diet and exercise-based weight loss programs for individuals at-risk for the metabolic syndrome and provide insight into psychological and physiological mechanisms of action.

Effects of Mindfulness on Inner City Youth and Obesity

Michele Mietus-Snyder, MD
Associate Professor
Departments of Pediatric Medicine and Physiological Nursing
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Michele Mietus-Snyder is an Associate Professor at UC San Francisco in the Departments of Pediatric Medicine and Physiological Nursing. She is a preventive cardiologist with experience in both molecular genetic laboratory research on redox gene regulation and in clinical research on vascular reactivity as a noninvasive measure of blood vessel function and health. Her interests include the study of genetic and environmental triggers for atherosclerotic risk as well as the epigenetic impact of numerous, interrelated cardiovascular risk factors that promote vascular oxidative stress, including dyslipidemia, unhealthful diet, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, and psychosocial stress. The growing epidemic of childhood obesity places children at heightened risk for early atherosclerotic disease through all of these pathways. Dr. Mietus-Snyder has become increasingly interested in advancing our understanding of ways to reverse environmental triggers for atherosclerotic disease. She is involved clinically in pediatric weight management with the UCSF WATCH clinic (Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health) and is helping the Children’s Hospital Oakland begin a pediatric lipid clinic. She is committed to the development of a comprehensive multidisciplinary weight management program, especially for inner city children at highest risk for both obesity and for its adverse metabolic consequences. Dr. Mietus-Snyder’s current clinical research projects explore 1) the role of stress in the manifestation of the metabolic syndrome in pediatric obesity, and 2) the role of micronutrient deficiencies of a typical calorie replete, nutritionally depleted American diet in the inflammatory comorbidities of obesity. These efforts are all aimed at the identification of feasible, effective, preventive health strategies that can be adopted not as an acute intervention, but as a lifelong ethic for heart-healthy living.

Reflections and Directions

Mary Dallman, PhD
Professor of Physiology
University of California, San Francisco

KEYNOTE: Glucocorticoid Metabolism in Not Entirely Boring; Exploring the Mind-Body Interface with 11beta-HSDs

Jonathon Robert Seckl, BSc, MBBS, PhD, FRCPE, FMedSci, FRSE
Moncrieff-Arnott Professor of Molecular Medicine
Director of Research, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Edinburgh University

Jonathan Seckl is both medically and scientifically trained (MBBS at UCL, PhD in neuroendocrinology at ICL). A clinical endocrinologist and former Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Seckl’s research (funded by programme grants from the Wellcome Trust and MRC) focuses on glucocorticoid biology from ‘cloning to clinic’. The laboratory exploits technologies from molecular and cell biology through models in vivo to detailed clinical investigation. His main themes are the discovery and understanding of the importance of local tissue regeneration of glucocorticoids, notably by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases, as a cause of and therapeutic target for age-related memory impairments and the metabolic syndrome-diabetes-obesity continuum. He also studies fetal ‘programming’ by glucocorticoids and the mechanism by which this leads to subsequent disorders in adult life, notably of the CNS. He has authored over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, over 30 with more than 100 citations. Seckl holds several patents and is on the Board of Edinburgh University’s technology transfer company, ERI. He sees patients with endocrine disorders and has particular interest in hypothalamic-pituitary disorders and abnormalities of glucocorticoid hormones.

Professor Seckl has been head of the Department of Medical Sciences, Head of School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine and is now Director (Dean) of Research for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. He has been on grant awarding committees for the MRC, Wellcome Trust, other UK charities, and the EU. He is a current member of the Scottish Scientific Advisory Committee and an RAE2008 subpanel.

What is Driving the Obesity Epidemic?

David Kessler, MD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine

What are the Roles of Behavioral and Biological Mechanisms in Obesity? Where Can We Go From Here?

David Kessler, MD
Elissa Epel, PhD

Robert Lustig, MD
Mary Dallman, PhD
Jonathon Seckl, BSc, MBBS, PhD, FRCPE, FMedSci, FRSE
Bruce McEwen, PhD
Barbara Laraia, PhD, RD, MPH

Closing Comments: Variations on a theme of M

Bruce McEwan, PhD
Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology
Rockefeller University