Molly McDougle

Postdoctoral Fellow


Postdoctoral Fellow, Monell Chemical Senses Center


Ph.D., Pharmacodynamics, University of Florida

Laboratory Of

Dr. Guillaume de Lartigue

Research Summary

Food is a powerful natural reinforcer that guides feeding decisions, including when, what, and how much to eat. Nutrient signals are conveyed from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve, where they modulate reward and hunger signals to inform feeding decisions. I am particularly interested in how food reward drives feeding decisions, and how reward signaling is altered in obesity leading to overeating. Fats and sugars are the primary drivers of ingestive reward, as opposed to protein, so I have focused on the physiology of fat and sugar sensing and signaling. I am also interested in how food reward circuits are affected by weight loss interventions in obesity, including lifestyle modification, pharmaceuticals like GLP-1 agonists, and bariatric surgery, and whether this plays any role in their success or failure. To investigate these questions, I use genetic manipulations, behavioral tasks, and in vivo imaging techniques in mice to understand how gut-brain circuits impact feeding decisions and reward.


feeding, reward, gut-brain axis, vagus, obesity, in vivo imaging

Representative Publications

Molly McDougle, Alan de Araujo, Macarena Vergara, Mingxin Yang, Arashdeep Singh, Isadora Braga, Nikhil Urs, Brandon Warren, Guillaume de Lartigue. Labeled Lines for Fat and Sugar Reward Combine to Promote Overeating. bioRxiv 2022.08.09.503218; doi:

McDougle, M, Quinn, D, Diepenbroek, C, Singh, A, de la Serre, C, de Lartigue, G. Intact vagal gut-brain signalling prevents hyperphagia and excessive weight gain in response to high-fat high-sugar diet. Acta Physiol. 2021; 231:e13530.

Brierley, D.I., Holt, M.K., Singh, A…. McDougle, M…. et al. Central and peripheral GLP-1 systems independently suppress eating. Nat Metab 3, 258–273 (2021).

Shin J. Lee, Jean-Philippe Krieger… Molly McDougle… et al. Blunted Vagal Cocaine- and Amphetamine-Regulated Transcript Promotes Hyperphagia and Weight Gain, Cell Reports, Volume 30, Issue 6, 2020, Pages 2028-2039.e4, ISSN 2211-1247,

de Lartigue, G, McDougle, M. Dorsal striatum dopamine oscillations: Setting the pace of food anticipatory activity. Acta Physiol. 2019; 225:e13152.