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My overall interest is the study of how the brain predicts and controls changes in metabolism in the body, and in particular how food intake is regulated.
My work revolves around these topics:
Appetite and body weight control.
Study of brain networks responsible for regulation of body metabolism, with a focus on hypothalamic networks.
The role of brain glucose sensors: physiology and pharmacology of brain mechanisms that detect fluctuations in sugar.
The hypothalamus in the brain plays a critical role in assessing the nutritional status of the organism and controlling metabolism accordingly. Food intake, for example, is a complex behaviour that is essentially regulated by the hypothalamus, as are other related functions such as peripheral metabolism, body temperature, etc.
Within the hypothalamus, a group of cells have the ability to detect local fluctuations in sugar. It is believed that this ability allows the brain to sense changes in sugar in the body and react accordingly by, for example, promoting food intake when blood sugar is too low. I study the cellular mechanisms utilised by brain sugar sensors to perform this job. Moreover, I am interested in investigating how these sugar sensors operate within the brain, how they communicate with other brain regions, and what their role is as part of the wider brain circuitry that controls appetite and body weight.