Virginia Brooks, PhD

vlb 2011

Primary Affiliation

Professor - Physiology & Pharmacology Department

Program Affiliation

Physiology & Pharmacology
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Program in Molecular & Cellular

Background & Education

  • B.S. 1972, Oakland University
  • Ph.D. 1978, University of Michigan


Research Summary

We study brain control of the autonomic nervous system and blood pressure, not only in normal individuals, but also the changes that occur with obesity and pregnancy. A recent focus is the actions and neurocircuitry by which metabolically relevant proteins and peptides, such as insulin, leptin, alpha-MSH, Neuropeptide Y, and angiotensin II, alter basal and baroreflex control of sympathetic nerve activity and heart rate. Our experimental strategies are generally integrative and range from acute and chronic measurements of blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity in conscious and anesthetized rats and mice, brain nanoinjections, immunohistochemistry, standard molecular techniques, and most recently select hypothalamic expression of DREADDs (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) and manipulation of specific brain proteins via the use of select viral vectors.

Recent discoveries

Identification of the arcuate nucleus as the site at which insulin increases sympathetic nerve activity (Cassaglia et al. J.Physiol. 2011).

Identification of Neuropeptide Y in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus as a potent tonic inhibitor of sympathetic nerve activity (Cassaglia et al. J.Physiol. 2014).

We discovered profound sex differences in the sympathoexcitatory effects of leptin (Li et al. Hypertension 2013 and Shi and Brooks. J.Physiol. 2014).



A Logical Path to Success in Academic Medicine

Contact Information

3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road L334/RJH 3588
Portland, OR  97239
Phone: (503) 494-5843
Fax: (503) 494-4352


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