Ingestive Behavior and Obesity Program


  • Study the mechanisms involved in the regulation of food intake by the brain-gut axis in health, in obesity, and other eating disorders.
  • Utilize a multisystem approach including neuroimaging, multiomics, and psychosocial tools to understand these mechanisms.
  • Develop novel treatments aimed to replicate or improve the results of bariatric surgery on weight loss.
  • Find predictors of successful outcomes for different treatment modalities aimed to lose weight and use them to customize obesity treatments.

Background and Rationale
food_brain2With the exceptions of rare endocrine disorders, people become obese because they consume more calories than they expend. This is not news. Diet and exercise specialists have known this for over a century. However, not only have we failed at solving the obesity problem, but it has now reached crisis status, so the focus needs to shift. We need to understand why people eat beyond their energy necessities, how their brains make food choices and their brains respond to signals of hunger and fullness coming from their gut, gut-microbiome, inflammatory markers, and fat tissue. That is what we are dedicated to discovering. To this end, our work employs cutting edge technology combining brain imaging, metabolomics, 16S analysis, peptide and adipokine measurements, and cultural competency in exposing the underlying mechanisms that cause people to over eat and under exercise, despite health compromises that affect their quality of life and life span.

Prevailing ignorance continues to shroud obesity and eating disorders with veils of stigma and social judgment. Articulating poorly understood, or unknown neurobiological mechanisms underlying eating behaviors is vital. In doing so, we hope to create the basis for innovative and customized preventive solutions and treatments for people at risk or suffering from obesity, metabolic syndrome, and eating disorders. Hence, our mission, our passion and our devotion are to elucidate the substrata that compel and sustain maladaptive eating behaviors in obesity and other eating disorders.

Key Investigators and Healthcare Professionals
Claudia Sanmiguel, Arpana Gupta, Lisa Kilpatrick, Jen Labus, Emeran Mayer, Iordanis Karagianidis, Joseph Pisegna, Yvette Taché, Kristin Coveleskie