Stephen D. Liberles, PhD  

Internal and external sensory systems controlling nutrient homeostasis

We study how the brain processes external sensory stimuli and internal homeostatic signals to control physiology and behavior. A major effort in the lab is to chart peripheral neural circuits that control feeding behavior, insulin release, and digestion in response to the presence or absence of nutrients. We are using molecular and genetic approaches to study neuron subpopulations of the vagus nerve that mediate responses to gut hormones. Our major goals are to 1) identify sensory inputs that evoke instinctive responses, 2) understand molecular mechanisms used by sensory systems for stimulus detection, and 3) deconstruct neural circuits that process sensory input to produce a myriad of perceptions and behaviors.


1. Ferrero DM, Lemon JK, Fluegge D, Pashkovski SL, Korzan WJ, Datta SR, Spehr M, Fendt M, and Liberles SD. “Detection and avoidance of a carnivore odor by prey”, (2011) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 108 (27): 11235-11240, PMCID: PMC3131382

2. Ferrero DM, Wacker D, Roque M, Baldwin MW, Stevens RC, and Liberles SD. "Agonists for 13 Trace amine-associated receptors provide insight into the molecular basis of odor selectivity", (2012) ACS Chem. Biol., 7 (7): 1184-1189, PMCID: PMC3401279

3. Johnson MA, Tsai L, Roy D, Valenzuela DH, Mosley C, Lomvardas S, Liberles SD, and Barnea G. "Neurons expressing Trace amine-associated receptors project to discrete glomeruli and constitute an olfactory subsystem", (2012) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 109 (33): 13410-13415, PMCID:

4. Li Q, Korzan WJ, Ferrero DM, Chang RB, Roy DS, Buchi M, Lemon JK, Kaur A, Stowers L, Fendt M, and Liberles SD. "Synchronous evolution of an odor biosynthesis pathway and behavioral response", (2013) Current Biology, 23: 11-20, PMCID: PMC3543494

5. Ferrero DM, Moeller LM, Osakada T, Horio N, Li Q, Roy DS, Cichy A, Spehr M, Touhara K, Liberles SD. "A juvenile mouse pheromone inhibits sexual behavior through the vomeronasal system", (2013) Nature, 502: 368-371. PMCID: PMC3800207

6. Hussain, H*, Saraiva, LR*, Ferrero, DM*, Ahuja G, Krishna VS, Liberles, SD, Korsching, SI, " High affinity olfactory receptor for the death-associated odor cadaverine", (2013) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 110 (48): 19579-19584, PMCID: PMC3845148

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