Support The World's Smartest Network

Help the New York Academy of Sciences bring late-breaking scientific information about the COVID-19 pandemic to global audiences. Please make a tax-deductible gift today.

This site uses cookies.
Learn more.


This website uses cookies. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the website to operate while others offer you a better browsing experience. You give us your permission to use cookies, by continuing to use our website after you have received the cookie notification. To find out more about cookies on this website and how to change your cookie settings, see our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.

We encourage you to learn more about cookies on our site in our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.


Brain vs Gut: Can Appetite Be Restrained?

Brain vs Gut


Energy balance over the life-span varies within a narrow range in most people yet it reflects an incessant competition between countervailing energy-storing (anabolic) and (less abundant) energy-using (catabolic) processes. Concomitantly there is a conflict between autonomic/metabolic and cognitive/behavioral processes that renders labor-saving Homo sapiens physiologically maladaptive. This maladaptation is embodied in the chronic overnutrition syndrome, obesity. The Brain vs Gut: Can Appetite be Restrained? symposium held at The New York Academy of Sciences on May 2, 2011 and presented by the Diabetes and Obesity Discussion Group brought together pre-clinical and clinical scientists researching diverse aspects of energy balance, from nutrient sensing and appetite regulation to eating disorders and bariatric surgery. This resulted in a constructive discussion about current minimally invasive interventions to restore healthy energy balance.

Use the tab above to find multimedia from this event.


Presentations available from:

John G. Kral, MD, PhD (SUNY Downstate Medical Center)
Gary J. Schwartz, PhD (Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
Blandine Laferrère, MD (Columbia University — St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center)
Allen S. Levine, PhD (University of Minnesota)
Timothy H. Moran, PhD (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Walter J. Pories, MD (East Carolina University)
Philip R. Schauer, MD (Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland Clinic)
Anthony Sclafani, PhD (CUNY, Brooklyn College)
Christopher C. Thompson, MD, MSc (Brigham and Women's Hospital)
B. Timothy Walsh, MD (Columbia University)
Gene-Jack Wang, MD (Brookhaven National Laboratories)

Presented by:

  • The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science
  • The New York Academy of Sciences

Grant Support

  • Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation


This meeting is part of our Translational Medicine Initiative, sponsored by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and The Mushett Family Foundation.

This event is funded in part by the Life Technologies™ Foundation.


John G. Kral, MD, PhD

SUNY Downstate Medical Center
e-mail | website | publications

While researching the metabolic and cardiovascular effects of novel adrenergic receptor blockers John Kral was recruited to the laboratory of Per Björntorp to study the influence(s) of adipocyte morphology on lipostatic mechanisms after surgical reduction of adipose tissue ("adipectomy") in rats. As a board certified surgeon he extended these studies, evaluating the effects of lipectomy and of metabolic gastro-intestinal operations for weightloss on body composition, adipose tissue receptors, and lipid and carbohydrate metabolism in severely obese patients. After completing his PhD Kral was recruited to the first NIH-funded Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital, Columbia University, where he was appointed Director of Surgical Metabolism in 1981. In 1988 he was appointed Director of Surgery at Kings County Hospital Center and Professor of Surgery at Downstate Medical Center, resigning the directorship in 1992. His main scientific interests are appetite regulation, early-life stress and the intrauterine environment of gestational overnutrition and diabetes.

Andrew G. Swick, PhD

Nutrition Research Institute, University of North Carolina
e-mail | website | publications

Andrew G. Swick has over 20 years of experience in obesity and metabolic diseases research with expertise in relevant cell and animal models and a keen understanding of translational research. He joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Nutrition and the Nutrition Research Institute in August of 2010 where he is currently an associate professor and Director of Obesity and Eating Disorders Research. Swick's two main areas of research are 1) gut metabolism as it relates to obesity and metabolic diseases and 2) body weight and energy expenditure in humans with an emphasis on variability in energy metabolism in response to diet, exercise, nutriceuticals and pharmaceuticals etc. Swick earned a BS in Animal Science from the University of Florida in 1981 followed by an MS in Nutrition from the University of Nebraska in 1982. After earning his PhD in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin, Swick pursued postdoctoral research at the Lineberger Cancer Research Institute at the University of North Carolina where he studied transcriptional regulation of the dihydrofolate reductase gene and the effects of chemotherapeutic agents on transcription and gene amplification.

Jennifer S. Henry, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Jennifer Henry received her PhD in plant molecular biology from the University of Melbourne, Australia, with Paul Taylor at the University of Melbourne and Phil Larkin at CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra, specializing in the genetic engineering of transgenic crops. She was then appointed as Associate Editor, then Editor, of Functional Plant Biology at CSIRO Publishing. She moved to New York for her appointment as a Publishing Manager in the Academic Journals division at Nature Publishing Group, where she was responsible for the publication of biomedical journals in nephrology, clinical pharmacology, hypertension, dermatology, and oncology.

Jennifer joined the Academy in 2009 as Director of Life Sciences and organizes 35–40 seminars each year. She is responsible for developing scientific content in coordination with the various life sciences Discussion Group steering committees, under the auspices of the Academy's Frontiers of Science program. She also generates alliances with outside organizations interested in the programmatic content.


Gary J. Schwartz, PhD

Albert Einstein College of Medicine
e-mail | website | publications

Gary J. Schwartz is a Professor of Medicine and Neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. His basic research focuses on the neurobiology of feeding behavior, energy balance, and glucose homeostasis in obesity and diabetes. He has published extensively on the role of gut-brain communication in the control of food intake and metabolism, and is an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology & Metabolism section. He is a senior member and Core leader for the Albert Einstein Diabetes Research and Training Center and the New York Obesity Research Center, and is the Director of the Skirball Institute for Nutrient Sensing.


Blandine Laferrère, MD

Columbia University–St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center
e-mail | publications

Blandine Laferrère is Associate Professor of Medicine at St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Attending Physician is the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, and Member of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center (NYONRC) and the Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center. Laferrère trained as a Endocrinologist Diabetologist both in France and in the United States. She is a full-time attending physician in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital where she is co-Director of the fellowship program. The focus of her research at the NYONRC is the relation between weight changes and diabetes risk. Her laboratory has contributed to the understanding of the mechanisms of diabetes remission after bariatric surgery by showing a role of the incretins. The focus of her current research is to understand the mechanisms of the differential metabolic response between diet and surgical weight loss, the mechanisms of incretin release after GBP and the long-term effect of surgical weight loss on beta-cell function.

Allen S. Levine, PhD

University of Minnesota
e-mail | website | publications

Allen Levine is Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Prior to this position, he was Head of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. He was the Associate Director of Research and a Senior Career Scientist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. He is also Director of the Minnesota Obesity Center, a National Institutes of Health funded collaborative research group. His research focus for the past 25 years has been on neural regulation of food intake, particularly related to the opioid peptides and Neuropeptide Y. He has published over 285 scientific papers and over 90 review articles, editorials and book reviews. Levine has served on a variety of Editorial Boards and National Organizations; including American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Journal of Nutrition, NAASO (ethics committee chair), SSIB (currently President; treasurer), ASNS, APA, and ILSI. Levine is a Professor in the Departments of Food Science and Nutrition, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Medicine, and is a member of the nutrition, food science, and the neuroscience graduate faculties at the University of Minnesota. He received his BA in Botany from Rutgers and his MS (in Botany) and PhD (in Nutrition) from the University of Minnesota.

Timothy H. Moran, PhD

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
e-mail | website | publications

Timothy Moran received his PhD in Biopsychology at Johns Hopkins University in 1982. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, he joined the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry in 1984. He currently serves as Vice Chair and Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Moran has been an associate editor for the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology and for Brain Research, and he is on the editorial board of multiple journals. He is currently on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the New York Obesity Center, The Klarman Family Foundation for Eating Disorders Research, the Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue and the Institute for Mental Health Research at the University of Ottawa. Moran's research program is aimed at identifying the roles of various neural signaling pathways in the controls of food intake and body weight. Work has focused on brain/gut peptides as feedback controls of meal size and how these interact with hypothalamic peptide systems involved in overall energy balance. This work has resulted in over 280 original data articles, reviews and book chapters.

Walter J. Pories, MD

East Carolina University
e-mail | website | publications

Walter J. Pories is a Professor of Surgery, Biochemistry, Sport and Exercise Medicine in the Department of Surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina where he serves as the Director of the Bariatric Research Program. Pories's research has been focused on trace element metabolism, the mechanisms underlying the effects of bariatric surgery and quality control of bariatric surgery. He has been funded by the NIH for almost three decades. He served as the founding Chairman of his Department, as the President of a number of surgical societies and received a number of national awards primarily for his contributions in nutrition. He retired from the US Army as a Colonel after serving as a Commander in the First Gulf War with a Legion of Merit and a Presidential Unit Citation. He is also the recipient of the O. Max Gardner Award given annually by the Trustees of the University of North Carolina to the outstanding faculty member in the 16 university system.

Philip R. Schauer, MD

Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland Clinic
e-mail | website | publications

Philip Schauer is Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Chief of Minimally Invasive General Surgery and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute (BMI). He is past president of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). After receiving his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine, Schauer completed his residency in surgery at The University of Texas. Prior to joining The Cleveland Clinic in 2004, Schauer served as director of endoscopic surgery, director of bariatric surgery and Director of the Mark Ravitch/Leon Hirsch Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Schauer's clinical interests include surgery for severe obesity, minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic), and gastrointestinal surgery. He has performed more than 5000 operations for severe obesity. His research interests include the pathophysiology of obesity and related diseases, physiologic effects of laparoscopic surgery on postoperative injury and recovery, and outcomes of laparoscopic management of obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, and hernias. He is on the editorial board of Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases and Obesity Surgery as well as 3 other medical journals.

Anthony Sclafani, PhD

CUNY, Brooklyn College
e-mail | website | publications

Anthony Sclafani earned a BS in Psychology at Brooklyn College and a PhD in Biological Physiology at the University of Chicago in 1970. Sclafani then returned to Brooklyn College as an assistant professor of psychology in 1970. Currently, he is a distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Feeding Behavior and Nutrition Laboratory. Sclafani's laboratory examines the biopsychology of appetite, food preferences and obesity with the goal to reveal the role of flavor and post-oral nutrient effects on the appetite for high-sugar and high-fat foods. Sclafani's laboratory was among the first to characterize in detail the sensory appeal of dietary fat to neonatal and adult rats, and to discover the taste for starch and starch-derived polysaccharides in rodents. This same lab has also made seminal discoveries concerning the post-oral actions of nutrients to stimulate food intake and conditioned flavor preferences. This research has been supported by an NIH grant for the last 28 years. More recently, Sclafani's group has been investigating the neuropharmacology of learned flavor preferences with the support of a 5-year NIH grant and flavor conditioning by the post-ingestive actions of glutamate supported by a 2-year grant from the Ajinomoto Company.

Karen L. Teff, PhD

Monell Chemical Senses Institute and University of Pennsylvania
e-mail | website | publications

Karen L. Teff is currently a Member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center and Director of Translational Research of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also Assistant Director of the Master's in Translational Research Program and as of July 1 will be Director of the Penn Clinical and Translational Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Teff has a long-standing interest in the interactions among diet, the autonomic nervous system, and endocrine responses. Her research program investigates the pathophysiological consequences of increased body adiposity, including impairments in neural activation, insulin resistance and inflammation. She is also conducting studies on the metabolic impairments induced by the atypical antipsychotics. Teff holds a BSc in nutrition and a PhD in Experimental Medicine from McGill University. Teff was a Program Director at NIDDK from 2004–2006 and an elected council member of the North American Society for the Study of Obesity and an elected board member of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. She has received funding from a variety of sources including the NIH, ADA and JDRF.

Christopher C. Thompson, MD, MSc

Brigham and Women's Hospital
e-mail | website | publications

Christopher C. Thompson is the Director of Therapeutic Endoscopy at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also on staff at the Danna Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital, and is co-director of the CIMIT/DOD funded Harvard Working Group on Endoscopic Surgery. He is an active clinician with focused interest in advanced endoscopy as it applies to post surgical complications, bariatric endoscopy, reflux, and pancreatic disease. He has also established an active animal lab geared toward device development and industry partnering. The lab currently has several active protocols for NOTES and the development of endoluminal devices. He has been active in the training of medical students, residents, and gastroenterology fellows for the past several years. He is also involved in the mentoring of advanced endoscopy fellows and post-doctoral research fellows. Thompson received his MD from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in 1996.

B. Timothy Walsh, MD

Columbia University
e-mail | website | publications

B. Timothy Walsh, a graduate of Princeton University and of Harvard Medical School, joined the staff of Columbia University Medical Center in 1979 and established the Eating Disorders Research Unit at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Walsh is currently the Ruane Professor of Pediatric Psychopharmacology in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, and Director of the Division of Clinical Therapeutics at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Walsh's research group has examined biological and psychological abnormalities which contribute to the development and perpetuation of disturbances in eating behavior, and investigated both psychological and pharmacological treatments for Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Walsh is a member of the DSM-5 Task Force and chairs the Eating Disorders Workgroup for DSM-5. He is a past president of the Academy for Eating Disorders, and of the Eating Disorders Research Society.

Gene-Jack Wang, MD

Brookhaven National Laboratories
e-mail | website | publications

Gene-Jack Wang is a board certified Nuclear Medicine physician and a senior scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). In addition to performing his own research, he is the Chairman of the BNL Medical Department and holds a joint appointment as a Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His research focuses on the application of PET and functional MRI to the study of various brain disorders. He is interested in using PET to study the neuro-psychiatric mechanisms and manifestations of alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity and eating disorder in humans and in animal models. Using PET, he reported similarity of brain circuits' disruption in drug addiction and in obesity. Currently, he uses PET to study the relationship between peripheral metabolic signals and brain neurotransmitters. His other interests include using functional MRI to study effect of diet control drug on brain satiety circuit and to assess cognitive function in obese subjects. He has published over 230 peer-reviewed papers on his imaging research. The National Institute of Health and pharmaceutical companies fund his ongoing research.


  • The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science
  • The New York Academy of Sciences

Grant Support

  • Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation


This meeting is part of our Translational Medicine Initiative, sponsored by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and The Mushett Family Foundation.

This event is funded in part by the Life Technologies™ Foundation.