Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 2 – 2002

Greg Barsh, Pediatrics
Charles Taylor, no longer at Stanford
Stephen Smith, Molecular and Cellular Physiology

We have used a sophisticated microscope first built by Dr. Stephen Smith to measure how individual cells in the brain of mice respond to changes in the bloodstream that mediate sensations of hunger and fullness. These cells have been marked using transgenic technology applied in Dr. Barsh's laboratory whereby a fluorescent protein rapidly moves from one part of the cell (the cytoplasm) to another part (the membrane) in response to hormones such as insulin and leptin that play a key role in body weight regulation.

Our work has provided new insight into how the brain perceives hunger and satiety signals, and initiates behavioral responses such as eating and changes in metabolism to attempt to maintain a constant level of body fat.