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Department of Psychiatry

Department of Psychology

DPRG Spring Fling 2015



Why is it so difficult to just say no (to doughnuts): brain and body interactions in obesity development, prevention and treatment






                                      May 12, 2015


                                 8:30 am – 2:00 pm

                               Education 1 – Rm1400


  It’s that time of year again!  This year DPRG’s Spring Fling will be addressing research concerning obesity.  We look forward to seeing everyone there; however, space is limited and DPRG members will be allotted priority until April 10th.  After that, there will be open registration until seats are full.  There is no fee to attend, but registration is required!  We will have a “working lunch” provided during which a career panel will take place so please be sure inform us of any special requests for meals (i.e. gluten free, etc.).


There is no fee to attend, but registration is required!




 “Moving More and Eating Better: Brain and Behavioral Effects of Two Obesity Prevention Approaches” Kristina L. McFadden, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. McFadden received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2010.  She then completed postdoctoral training in the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group (DPRG) training program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and is a member of the Neuroscience Program.  Her research utilizes neuroimaging approaches (EEG, MEG, fMRI) to understand in vivo neuronal circuits and mechanisms that contribute to human obesity.  Another goal of this systems neuroscience approach is to understand the mechanisms by which different weight loss techniques, such as diet and exercise, affect obesity neurobiology.  Dr. McFadden is interested in understanding brain responses to exercise, nutrition-focused, and cognitive-based approaches to obesity prevention and treatment.​​​​​​​1

 “Brain Endophenotypes of Obesity” Alain Dagher, M.D., Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University

Dr. Dagher received a B.Eng and M.Eng in Electrical Engineering from McGill University.  He then completed his M.D. at the University of Toronto, followed by a residency in neurology at Cornell University Medical Center and at McGill University.  He trained in movement disorders and functional brain imaging at the Hammersmith Hospital and National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London.  He returned to the Montreal Neurological Institute in 1997 where his lab works on various aspects of functional brain imaging with a particular interest in Parkinson’s disease, addiction and appetite control.  He is a Professor in the departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Psychology at McGill.  Dr. Dagher’s research aims to understand the function of brain regions innervated by dopamine.  These interconnected brain areas play a key role in reward, learning, motivation, and decision-making.  This research has applications to Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia, drug addiction and obesity, and to gaining an understanding of normal brain function.  Almost all of his work uses functional brain imaging methods in human subjects.  He has also made contributions to basic imaging methodology, most notably in developing a PET technique that allows the measurement of dopamine release in vivo in the human brain.  Dr. Dagher uses fMRI to model addiction and obesity as a disorder of choice.  He has used neuroeconomics approaches to the study of drug craving and hunger, based on the analogy between incentive salience and “economic value”.​​​​2

 “Developmental Aspects of Young Children’s Eating Behavior” Susan L. Johnson, Ph.D., Department of Pediatrics, Section of Nutrition, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. Johnson is a Professor and Early Childhood Nutritionist in the Section of Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.  Dr. Johnson’s primary focus is research related to factors that influence the development of children’s food intake and eating patterns.  She conducts research that centers on how child-feeding practices, both at home and in child care, impact children’s food preferences, their energy intake patterns and their weight outcome.​​​6

 “Weight Regulation: What is the Regulated Parameter?” Daniel H. Bessesen, M.D., Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Dr. Bessesen is currently Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He is also the Chief of Endocrinology at Denver Health Medical Center and Associate Director at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.  He received his M.D. degree from the University of Colorado in 1982 and training in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology also from the University of Colorado.  He is Director for Fellowship Training in Endocrinology at the University of Colorado and is the Course Director for the Metabolism course that is a core course for second year medical students.  He spends half of his time in patient care and half his time in research.  He is interested in how the brain receives and manages information about nutritional status in particular dietary fat metabolism and how differences in nutrient sensing relate to protection from or a propensity for weight gain.  He and his research group have conducted studies in both humans and animal models that are prone or resistant to obesity.  Studies have used overfeeding, underfeeding, exercise and reduced physical activity as perturbations to examine the regulation of energy balance​​​8