Chris Madden

  • Research Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery, School of Medicine


The central neural control of autonomic outflow to all tissues of the body is an integral component of the physiological mechanisms contributing to homeostasis. Dysregulation of autonomic function contributes to the etiology, morbidity, and mortality associated with many of the disease states and pathological conditions prevalent in modern society, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, sudden cardiac death, stroke, infection and sepsis. My research is directed toward understanding the detailed functional organization of the central neural circuits regulating metabolism, glucose homeostasis, cardiovascular function, and thermogenesis and how alterations in this regulation contribute to the pathology of disease. I currently use in vivo electrophysiological techniques, including direct simultaneous recordings of peripheral nerve activities and central nervous system single cell discharge, as well as, pharmacological, functional neuroanatomical, molecular biological, and optogenetic techniques to investigate the central neural circuits that regulate cardiovascular function, blood glucose homeostasis, body temperature, and energy metabolism. Gaining a greater knowledge of these brain pathways will increase our understanding of pathological conditions and provide a basis for novel therapeutic approaches to their treatment.Obesity is a major problem facing modern society. While excess caloric intake certainly contributes to the incidence of obesity, reductions in energy expenditure can also contribute to weight gain and hamper attempts at weight loss. Metabolism in brown adipose tissue is a neurally regulated contributor to energy expenditure. The observation of an increase in susceptibility to obesity following destruction of brown adipose tissue has led to a recent re-emergence of interest in the contribution of this tissue to obesity. This interest has been bolstered by the findings in both clinical and non-human studies that the functional amount of brown fat is inversely correlated with obesity. The activity of the nerves innervating brown fat governs the acute metabolic activity of these cells and the recruitment and development of additional brown adipose cells. Despite the importance of the regulation of brown adipose tissue, the details of the brain pathways involved in this regulation are only beginning to be understood.

Education and training

    • B.S., 1995, University of Pittsburgh
    • Ph.D., 2002, University of Pittsburgh



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