Lori Zeltser, PhD

Departments and Divisions

  • Department of Pathology & Cell Biology

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology
Lori Zeltser, PhD

Research in the Zeltser laboratory explores how developmental influences exert lasting impacts on body weight regulation. Epidemiological studies provide strong evidence that interactions between genetic and early environmental factors influence later susceptibility to obesity and eating disorders. A major obstacle to elucidating the underlying mechanism for these effects is that most research programs are focused on the neuroanatomy and physiology of body weight regulation in adults. We are using a two-pronged approach to identify critical developmental processes in the central and peripheral nervous system that regulate susceptibility to childhood obesity and anorexia nervosa. First, we use a combination of genetic, environmental and/or dietary manipulations in mice to define the timing and types of exposures needed to recapitulate basic epidemiological observations in humans. Then we use genetic and pharmacological tools to characterize the consequences of these developmental factors on the maturation of neuronal circuits that, in turn, mediate effects on metabolic, neuroendocrine and behavioral phenotypes. By applying the rigor and precision of developmental neuroscience to mouse models of susceptibility to body weight dysregulation, our research is yielding new insights into the causes of childhood obesity and anorexia nervosa, and could lead to new therapeutic strategies to treat these disorders.

Education and Training

  • PhD, 1996 Molecular and Developmental Biology, The Rockefeller University

Lab Locations

  • CUMC/Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion

    1150 St. Nicholas Avenue
    New York, NY 10032
    (212) 851-5314
    (212) 851-5306

Contact Info

  • (212) 851-5314

Teaching Responsibilities

Course Director for Molecular and Cell Biology and Nutrients G4020

Committees / Societies / Memberships

Society Memberships:

Society for Neuroscience

American Diabetes Association

The Obesity Society- member

Endocrine Society- member

Editing Committess:

Journal of Neuroscience- Associate Editor

Molecular Metabolism- Topic Editor

Diabetes – Consulting Editor

Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology – Review Editor

JCI Insight – Consulting Editor

Honors and Awards

1989: Magna cum laude in Molecular Biology, Princeton University
1989: Arnold and Mabel Beckman Fellowship, The Rockefeller University
1996: Hitchings-Elion Fellowship, Burroughs Wellcome Fund
2005: Naomi Berrie Young Investigator Award, CUMC
2005: William J. Matheson Foundation Young Investigator Award, CUMC
2013: Gladys J. Fashena Lecture, UT Southwestern Department of Pediatrics
2015: Harold and Golden Lamport Award for Excellence in Clinical Science Research, CUMC

Research Interests

  • Cellular/Molecular/Developmental Neuroscience
  • Circuits Regulating Food Intake and Body Weight
  • Maternal Programming of Metabolic Disease
  • Models of Psychiatric Disorders (Anorexia)
  • Sympathetic Innervation of Brown Adipose Tissue

Lab Projects

    • Neuroanatomical and functional mapping of sympathetic innervation of brown adipose tissue.
    • Investigating the impact of obesogenic diets and rapid growth on the development and function of sympathetic circuits regulating brown adipose tissue thermogenesis and susceptibility to diet-induced obesity.
    • Exploring the contribution of AVPR1A signaling to anorexia-like behavior in a novel mouse model that incorporates gene (BDNF-Val66Met) x environment (social stress and dieting) interactions associated with anorexia nervosa in humans.
    • Mapping circuits in the brain responsible for suppressed feeding behavior in a mouse model of anorexia nervosa.
    • Developing a translational behavioral assay to evaluate the relationship between anxiety and the approach to or avoidance of fattening foods in mice and human subjects.

Lab Members

  • Marie Francois, Postdoctoral Research Scientist
  • Isabella Canal, Master's Student
  • Daniele Neri, PhD student
  • Natalia (Maria) Bobba, PhD Student
  • Olaya Fernandez Gayol, Postdoctoral Research Scientist
  • Alexandre Lafond, Research Technician
  • Seoeun Lee, PhD Student
  • Angela Ramos Lobo, Postdoctoral Research Scientist
  • Nikolay Shargorodsky, Research Technician


Padilla, S.L., Carmody, J.S. and Zeltser, L.M. (2010) Pomc-expressing progenitors give rise to antagonistic populations in hypothalamic feeding circuits. Nature Medicine 16(4):403-5. PMC2854504.

Ring, L.E. and Zeltser, L.M. (2010) Disruption of hypothalamic leptin signaling in mice leads to early-onset obesity, but physiological adaptations in mature animals stabilize adiposity levels. JCI 120(8):2931-41. PMC2912188.

Schwartz, G.J. and Zeltser, L.M. (2013) Functional Organization of Neuronal and Humoral Signals Regulating Feeding Behavior. Annual Reviews of Nutrition Jul 17;33:1-21. PMC3991304.

Baquero, A. Juan de Solis, A., Lee, S., Lindsley, S., Krigiti M, Smith, S.M., Cowley M, Zeltser, L.M. and Grove K.L. (2014) Developmental switch of leptin signaling in arcuate nucleus neurons. Journal of Neuroscience 34(30):10041-10054. Featured Article in Journal. PMC4107412.

Juan de Solis, A., Baquero, A., Bennett C.M., Grove K.L. and Zeltser, L.M. (2016) Postnatal undernutrition delays a key step in the maturation of hypothalamic feeding circuits. Molecular Metabolism 5(3):198-209. PMC4770263.

Lerea J.S., Ring, L.E., Hassouna, R., Chong, A.C.N., Szigeti-Buck K, Horvath, T.L. and Zeltser, L.M. (2015) Reducing adiposity in a critical developmental window has lasting benefits in mice. Endocrinology 157(2):666-78. PMC4733128.

Zeltser, L.M. (2015) Developmental influences on circuits programming susceptibility to obesity. Front Neuroendocrinol. 39:17-27. PMID:26206662. Free PMC article.

Madra, M. and Zeltser L.M. (2016) BDNF-Val66Met variant and adolescent stress interact to promote susceptibility to anorexic behavior in mice. Translational Psychiatry Apr 5;6:e776. PMC4872394.

Zeltser, L.M. and Madra, M. (2018) A framework for elucidating causes and consequences of malnutrition in anorexia nervosa. In S. Sangha and D. Foti (Eds.) Neurobiology of Abnormal Emotion and Motivated Behaviors. Academic Press. ISBN: 9780128136935.

Zeltser, L.M. (2018) Feeding circuit development and early-life influences on future feeding behavior. Nature Review of Neuroscience 19(5):302-316. PMID: 29662204.

For a complete list of publications, please visit PubMed.gov