My research is focused on the discovery of neural circuits regulating metabolic balance in the context of obesity, diabetes and the aging process. My lab studies the role of central and peripheral sensory neural circuits on metabolic health and aging. Our mission is to discover novel target genes playing a fundamental role in the onset of diabetes and obesity, and design preclinical strategies to ameliorate metabolic function in mouse models of disease.
During my doctoral training, I gained expertise in sensory physiology by investigating the role of chemosensory receptors in gustatory perception. Fascinated by the potential role of chemosensory circuits in regulating life span, I subsequently joined the laboratory of Andrew Dillin, PhD, for my postdoctoral studies. The main focus of my work was to understand the involvement of sensory circuits in regulating metabolic health and lifespan in both nematodes and mice. Using our findings in nematodes, we discovered an evolutionary conserved circuit recruiting peripheral sensory neurons originating from the dorsal root ganglia. These neurons are involved in detecting internal stress signals and can actively influence nutrient signaling in insulin-sensing tissues to alter longevity in mice.
After obtaining a Pathway Program Initiator Award from the American Diabetes Association, I continued to work with a devoted diligence to discover new chemosensory neurons modulating metabolic health. In 2017, my efforts identified a role for olfactory inputs in adjusting energy balance, in addition to intrinsic signals released by peripheral tissues. In 2018, I was awarded a Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in Neuroscience, a Start-Up Grant from the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation in Aging Research and a Pilot and Feasibility Projects Award in Endocrinology & Diabetes from the University of California, San Diego Diabetes Research Center to pursue my efforts on the exploration of sensory neurons' impact on metabolic homeostasis.