Sam Bacharach

Postdoctoral Fellow


Postdoctoral Fellow, Monell Chemical Senses Center


Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Laboratory Of

Dr. Amber Alhadeff

Research Summary

A primary reason we eat is to fulfill a homeostatic need to obtain calories and alleviate the aversive experience of hunger. However, eating also occurs because it is pleasurable and rewarding, even when we don’t physiologically need the calories. I am interested in understanding how signaling in homeostatic and reward centers of the brain drives these two distinct motivators of feeding behavior. Further, I am interested in exploring how individual differences in feeding behavior and obesity are mediated by the influence of gut-brain communication on sensory processing and learning about food-related cues. To this end, I combine in vivo neural activity monitoring with state-of-the-art gut and brain manipulations to investigate how homeostatic and reward systems influence feeding behavior and motivation.


food intake, reward, gut-brain axis, learning, obesity, biosensor imaging

Representative Publications

Bacharach SZ, Martin DA, Stapf CA, Sun F, Li Y, Cheer JF, Calu DJ (2023). Decreased Ventral Tegmental Area CB1R Signaling Reduces Sign Tracking and Shifts Cue-Outcome Dynamics in Rat Nucleus Accumbens. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 43(25), 4684–4696.

Bacharach SZ, Tordoff MG, Alhadeff AL (2023). Glucose Sensing in the Hepatic Portal Vein and Its Role in Food Intake and Reward. Cellular and molecular gastroenterology and hepatology, 16(2), 189–199.

Bacharach SZ, Calu DJ (2019). Stability of individual differences in sucralose taste preference. PLOS One. 2019 May 14; 14(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216431.

Contact Information