I am a gut-brain neuroscientist.
Though my initial studies focused on GI physiology and nutrition, my expertise evolved to include neuroscience following the many personal stories, which have carefully sharpened my career vision along the way. While pursuing a Doctoral degree in Nutrition, a friend shared her struggles with obesity and gastric bypass surgery.
Surgery was a last resort but helped to reduced her body weight dramatically and resolved her diabetes. Yet, the most striking part of her story for me was that her perception of taste had been markedly transformed. Reshaping her gut caused her brain to convert a prior repulsion at the appearance of runny egg yolk into a strong craving to eat those same eggs.
Today, we are still a long way from understanding the full details of these intriguing conversations between our gut and our brain. But, the more we understand, the closer we are getting to treating disorders involving alterations in the perception of food in our gut.
My focus is to unveil how the brain perceives what the gut feels, how food in the intestine is sensed by our body, and how a sensory signal from a nutrient is transformed into an electrical signal that alters behavior.
Education and Training
- North Carolina State University, Ph.D. 2010
- Duke University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurogastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center
- Marine Biological Laboratory, 2014 Grass Fellow in the Neurosciences at the Marine Biology Laboratory
Associated Faculty Labs
Selected Grants and Awards
- Neural sensing of gut bacteria
- Neurobiology Training Program
- Endocrinology and Metabolism Training Program
- Sensing Dietary Amino Acids from Gut to Brain
- A gut brain neural circuit relevant to mental illnesses
- Medical Scientist Training Program
- The efferent synapse in neuropod cells
- Transmission electron microscope (TEM)
- Organization and Function of Cellular Structure
- Gut-Brain Neurocircuit Modulating Eating Behavior
- Closed-loop sacral nerve stimulation for inflammation - Phase I -
- Illuminating a gut-brain neural path for sensory signaling and pathogens
- Tasting gut bacteria
- Role of TLRs in human enteroendocrine cells
- Steering Brain Behaviors Using Programmable Bacteria
- Serial Block Face Scanning Electron Microscope
- Functional mapping of efferent gut neuroepithelial circuits
- Pilot Grant for Gastrointestinal Biology Research
- Regulation of Intestinal PYY cell function