Dr. Schur's research aims to understand how the brain regulates appetite. In humans, social, psychological, physiologic, and other factors influence appetite and food intake. We perform studies using both functional and structural neuroimaging techniques to study the brain. We investigate how genetics, diet, and disease (obesity and diabetes) influence appetite regulation in the brain and if obesity treatment can affect this process. Our current functional MRI studies evaluate the influence of genetics, body weight and behavioral weight loss on the brain’s response to images of high- and low-calorie food to reach a better understanding of how the brain links these factors to food intake and obesity risk. Our current structural MRI studies evaluate hypothalamic inflammation and injury—or gliosis—in both adults and children. Gliosis, a form of scarring, results from high-fat feeding in rodents. In humans, our MRI studies have shown signs of gliosis in obese and insulin-resistant individuals, and we are actively investigating how these changes influence the risk of obesity and diabetes. 

The Schur Laboratory's research was recently featured in The Hungry Brain by Stephan J. Guyenet, PhD.

Current Projects

Brain Inflammation and Glucose Regulation

The purpose of this study is to learn more about the differences in brain structure in people with and without Type 2 Diabetes and if these differences impact regulation of blood sugar over time. Participate in our research!

A Twin Study of Obesity Pathogenesis Using fMRI

Studies how the brain regulation of appetite is altered by genetic and/or environmental risk factors for obesity.

Brain Systems and Behaviors Underlying Response to Obesity Treatment in Children

The goal of this study is to understand brain systems that drive obesogenic eating behaviors and treatment response in children who undergo obesity interventions.

UW Nutrition Obesity Research Center

Dr. Schur serves as Core co-director of the new Adipose Tissue and Obesity Core and promotes translational research in nutrition and obesity.

Recent Projects

An International Collaboration to Study Hypothalamic Inflammation and Gliosis in Obese Children

This research is designed to further the UW’s existing collaboration with the University of Campinas in São Paulo to pursue an international, multi-site study investigating the role of hypothalamic gliosis in pediatric obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.


For research opportunities, contact ellschur@uw.edu.