Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Michael Tanios Rose Hills

Investigating the Role of the Mesolimbic Dopamine System in Obesity

My research investigates the neural mechanisms by which chronic high-fat diet (HFD) consumption alters hedonic feeding behavior, contributing to obesity. Obesity has rapidly become a global crisis, and with health concerns linked to chronic diseases, there is an urgent need for intervention strategies. Despite its prevalence, the neurological mechanisms that connect pleasure-driven eating to obesity remain largely unexplored. Understanding how the brain’s reward pathways adjust to chronic exposure to high-calorie foods is vital for closing the gap in our knowledge of how dietary habits influence brain function and contribute to obesity, which is essential for developing targeted interventions.

Preliminary research in the Lammel lab suggests a critical role of the mesolimbic dopamine system for hedonic feeding, with the lateral shell of the nucleus accumbens as the most prominent projection target of dopamine neurons from the ventral tegmental area (VTA→NAcLat). My research aims to examine if chronic high-fat diet consumption alters dopamine release in the NAcLat by using fiber photometry to record dopamine transients during a Pavlovian conditioning two-reward assay.

Message To Sponsor

I want to take a moment to sincerely thank my donor for funding my summer research project. Your generosity has provided me with the resources and encouragement needed to delve deeper into my personal passion for neuroscience, public health, and fitness. I'm grateful for this opportunity to advance our understanding in this crucial area of neuroscience through this fellowship.
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Stephan Lammel
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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