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School of Medicine Columbia

Faculty and Staff

Claudia Grillo, Ph.D.

Title: Research Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience
Department: Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience
School of Medicine Columbia
Phone: 803-216-3508

Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuro
Basic Science Bldg 1, Rm B27A

Claudia profile


Postdoctoral Training
The Rockefeller, University, New York, NY

University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

University of Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Research Focus

Obesity is a debilitating public health problem, and a common factor that underlie many of the frequent illnesses seen in medical practice. According to the World Health Organization 700 million adults are clinically obese. Although a number of factors are likely involved, increased food intake is one of the major contributors to obesity. A variety of hormones and neurotransmitters play different roles in appetite regulation, including the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin. Leptin is secreted proportionally to fat mass, and regulates a broad spectrum of homeostatic functions. While the role of hypothalamic leptin receptors in appetite regulation, body weight and energy expenditure are well established, recent studies suggest that extra-hypothalamic leptin receptors also regulate food intake. Integrating in vivo microdialysis with in vivo optogenetics approaches I am studying the role of leptin receptors located in the raphe nuclei, the main source of serotonin, and their interaction with the serotonergic system upon the regulation of eating behavior. My major interest is to identify novel circuits that regulates food intake, which will allow us to identify new targets for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat obesity.

Recent Publications

  • Grillo, C.A., Tamashiro, K.L., Piroli, G.G., Melhorn, S., Gass, J.T., Newsome, R.J., Reznikov, L. R., Smith, A., Wilson, S.P., Sakai, R.R., and Reagan L.P: Lentivirus-mediated downregulation of hypothalamic insulin receptor expression. Physiol Behav. 92:691-701 (2007).
  • Reagan LP, Hendry RM, Reznikov LR, Piroli GG, Wood GE, McEwen BS, Grillo CA. Tianeptine increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in the rat amygdala. Eur J Pharmacol. 22;565(1-3):68-75 (2007).
  • Grillo CA, Piroli GG, Hendry RM, and Reagan LP: Insulin-stimulated translocation of GLUT4 to the plasma membrane in rat hippocampus is PI3-kinase dependent. Brain Res. 1296:35-45. (2009).
  • Grillo CA, Piroli GG, Kaigler KF, Wilson SP, Wilson MA, Reagan LP: Downregulation of hypothalamic insulin receptor expression elicits depressive-like behaviors in rats. Behav Brain Res. 222(1):230-235 (2011).
    Grillo CA, Mulder P, Macht VA, Kaigler KF, Wilson SP, Wilson MA, Reagan LP.: Dietary restriction reverses obesity-induced anhedonia. Physiol Behav.128:126-32 (2014).
  • Grillo CA, Risher M, Macht VA, Bumgardner AL, Hang A, Gabriel C, Mocaër E, Piroli GG, Fadel JR, Reagan LP. Repeated restraint stress-induced atrophy of glutamatergic pyramidal neurons and decreases in glutamatergic efflux in the rat amygdala are prevented by the antidepressant agomelatine. Neuroscience 284:430-443 (2015).
  • Grillo CA, Piroli GG, Lawrence RC, Wrighten SA, Green AJ, Sakai RR, Wilson SP, Kelly SJ, Wilson MA, Mott DD, Reagan LP: Hippocampal insulin resistance impairs spatial learning and synaptic plasticity. Diabetes 64:3927:3936 (2015).
  • Van Doorn C, Macht VA, Grillo CA, Reagan LP. Leptin resistance and hippocampal behavioral deficits. Physiol Behav. 176:207-213 (2017).
  • Macht VA, Vazquez M, Petyak CE, Grillo CA, Kaigler K, Enos RT, McClellan JL, Cranford TL, Murphy EA, Nyland JF, Solomon G, Gertler A, Wilson MA, Reagan LP. Leptin resistance elicits depressive-like behaviors in rats. Brain Behav Immun. 60:151-160 (2017).
  • Chapman CD, Schiöth HB, Grillo CA, Benedict C. Intranasal insulin in Alzheimer's disease: Food for thought. Neuropharmacology. 2017 Nov 24. pii: S0028-3908(17)30566-X. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.11.037. [Epub ahead of print] Review.

Find Dr. Grillo on Pubmed.

Lab Members

  • Alia Sadek - Research Specialist I
  • Nicholas Maxwell - Graduate Research Student
  • Donzelle Benton - Undergraduate Research Student
  • Brittany Eberl - Undergraduate Research Student 
  • Andrei Robu  - Undergraduate Research Student 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.