Natale Sciolino

Assistant Professor, CLAS

Physiology and Neurobiology

Current Research Interests:
Our research focuses on defining the connectivity and function of brain circuits that regulate motivational processes related to feeding and reward. We utilize intersectional genetic and optical imaging approaches with the goal to provide future treatments for obesity and psychiatric disorders, such as addiction and anxiety.

Current Research Projects:
Overeating is a major contributor to excessive weight gain, involving the hypothalamus and innervating brain systems that control reward, motivation, learning and emotion. Accumulating clinical data indicate that disruptions to the norepinephrine (NE) signaling system underlie key aspects of obesity. Accordingly, drugs that stimulate NE release are used for weight loss. However, these drugs have side effects, due to their broad actions on NE signaling, creating a need to identify specific noradrenergic circuits that suppress feeding with minimal off-target effects. The goal of this proposed this research is to dissect the role of the locus coeruleus (LC) to lateral hypothalamus (LHA) noradrenergic circuit in feeding and dietary obesity. The central hypothesis is that increased LC-NE activity will suppress feeding through inhibition of LHA hunger-promoting neurons. These aims will be accomplished using state-of-the-art technologies, including fiber photometry to visualize neuronal activity, optogenetic tools to manipulate neural activity, and devices for high-resolution measurements of feeding behavior. Our work will address an important, yet understudied area in the field by uncovering the noradrenergic circuit, cell types and receptors that regulate feeding and their role in the treatment of obesity.

Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-2550