Graduate Studies Faculty

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M. Susan Smith, Ph.D.

Removed per NGP
Senior Scientist, Division of Neuroscience, ONPRC
Professor, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
Admin Unit: Oregon National Primate Research Center
Phone: 503-690-5300
Lab Phone: 503-690-5294
Fax: 503-690-5384
Office: ONPRC-Room 169, Research Building
Mail Code: L584
Research Interests:
neuroendocrinology energy balance obesity reproduction » PubMed Listing
Preceptor Rotations
Dr. Smith has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Smith has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.

Major Areas

  • Neuroendocrinology, systems neuroscience

Summary of Current Research

The goal of the Smith laboratory is to elucidate the hypothalamic neural control systems governing food intake/energy balance and reproductive function. A particular focus is on identifying the mechanisms by which the hypothalamus integrates signals denoting energy balance with the regulation of reproductive function. It is well established that conditions in which body stores of energy are depleted are characterized by a suppression of reproductive function (i.e., anorexia, bulimia, exercise-induced amenorrhea, lactation). Studies in the Smith lab are characterizing the neuroanatomical framework by which key hypothalamic areas regulating food intake communicate with gonadotropin releasing hormone neurons (GnRH, the hypothalamic neuropeptide that regulates reproduction), and on identifying signals that convey the status of negative energy balance to GnRH neurons. Studies are also determining the developmental ontogeny of feeding circuitry in the hypothalamus during prenatal and postnatal periods, with the goal of understanding more about the causes of obesity. Changes in nutrition (such as a high fat diet) during the prenatal and postnatal periods are being used to determine the effect of environmental factors on the ontogeny of feeding circuitry and on adult body weight phenotype. A number of complementary techniques are used in these studies: immunohistochemistry to identify neuronal phentoypes, in situ hybridization and Real Time PCR to quantify mRNA levels, retrograde and anterograde tracers to determine neuronal circuitry, confocal microscopy to analyze neuroanatomical data, and DNA microarray technology to identify novel hypothalamic genes that play a functional role in the regulation of energy balance or reproductive function.

Recent Publications

Glavas, MM, Grayson, BE, Allen, SE, Copp, DR, Smith, MS, Cowley, MA, Grove, KL. Characterization of brainstem peptide YY (PYY) neurons. J Comp Neurol 506: 194-210, 2008.

Xu, J, Han, VZ, Kirigiti, MA, Cowley, MA, Grove, KL, Smith, MS. Suppression of basal spontaneous GnRH neuronal activity during lactation: Role of inhibitory effects of NPY. Endocrinology 150: 333-340, 2009.

McCurdy, CE, Bishop, JM, Williams, SM, Grayson, BE, Smith, MS, Friedman, JE, Grove, KL. Maternal high fat diet triggers lipotoxicity in the fetal liver of the nonhuman primate. J Clin Invest 119: 323-335, 2009.

Xu, J, Kirigiti, MA, Grove, KL, Smith, MS. Regulation of food intake and GnRH/LH during lactation: role of insulin and leptin. Endocrinology 150: 4231-4240, 2009.

Glavas M, Grayson BE, Cowley MA, Kirigiti MA, Evans A, Smith MS, and Grove KL. Early over nutrition results in early onset arcuate leptin resistance and increased sensitivity to high-fat diet. Endocrinology 151:1598-1610, 2010.

Grayson  BE, Kievit P,  Smith MS, and Grove KL. Critical Determinants of Hypothalamic Appetitive Neuropeptide Development and Expression: Species Considerations. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, in press, 2010. 


  • Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1972

Previous Positions

  • Associate Professor/Professor, Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Postdoctoral Student, Department of Physiology, Emory University

Non-Academic Interests