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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Kevin Laugero





Ph.D., Department of Physiology

University of California, Davis


Office:     430 West Health Sciences Dr.

                 University of California

                 Davis, CA 95616


Phone:    (530) 752-4173


Fax:        (530) 752-5271



Laugero Lab




Dr. Laugero, a California native, received a Bachelor's degree in biological science from California State University Fresno and a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California, Davis.  As a National Research Service Award NIH Fellow, Dr. Laugero received his postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco where he studied the interrelationships between chronic stress, neuroendocrine function, and energy metabolism.  Subsequently, he spent 4 years in the biotechnology industry as a drug discovery scientist at Amylin Pharmaceuticals.  Recently, Dr. Laugero joined the WHNRC as a Nutritionist studying neurobehavioral aspects of eating behavior and developing nutritional based interventions aimed at facilitating long term adoption of the Dietary Guidelines.


Research Program       

The overarching objective of Dr. Laugero’s research is to understand the interrelationship between psychological stress, eating behavior, and energy metabolism. As a USDA scientist, a primary mission of Dr. Laugero’s research program is to expose psychosocial factors and mechanisms that underpin the Nation’s poor adoption of and adherence to the dietary guidelines.  A central aim of the research program is to identify nutritional and metabolic profiles that help explain individual variation in the brain’s response to psychological stress and the link between chronic metabolic and neurobehavioral disease.  A multidimensional approach (Nutritional Psychoneuromics) is applied to studies in animals, humans, and the community to identify factors that influence DG adherence and health.  Methods enlisted by Dr. Laugero and his research staff include functional brain imaging, metabolomics, neuroendocrinology, and focus groups.  Overall, studies currently being conducted and developed are aimed at 1) better understanding the factors that shape food choice, dietary patterns, and physical activity in children and adults of differing body composition and 2) assessing interventions that facilitate healthy eating behavior in children and adults.

Research Accomplishments 

  • Discovered a new glucocorticoid-metabolic-brain feedback regulatory pathway that prompted an entirely new model of chronic psychological stress and glucocorticoid function.  These findings elicit a new perspective on why it has been so difficult to motivate long term adoption of the Dietary Guidelines and body weight following restricted food intake and body weight loss.


  • Research findings led to patent applications, an issued U.S. patent, and contributed to the creation of a new company, Psylin Pharmaceuticals.

Selected Articles & Patent Applications  

1.    Laugero, K.D., Tryon, M.S. 2011. Stress and food intake:  What's the deal with your meal?. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources. 6:1-13.


2.    Witbracht, M.G., Laugero, K.D., Van Loan, M.D., Adams, S.H., Keim, N.L. 2011. Performance on the Iowa Gambling Task is related to magnitude of weight loss and salivary cortisol in a diet-induced weight loss intervention in overweight women. Physiology and Behavior. 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.04.035.


3.    Laugero, K.D. Obesity, the Economic Meltdown, and the Gut Feeling for the Foods We Choose to Eat. Clinical Nutrition Insight, 36(5):1-4, 2010.


4.    Laugero, K.D., Hanley, M.R., Parkes, D.G., and Mcgonigle, P.  Neuromedin and FN-38 Peptides for Treating Psychiatric Diseases. PCT/US2010/0168013, 2010.


5.    Laugero, K.D., Stonehouse, A.H., Guss, S., Landry, J., Vu, C., and Parkes, D. G. Exenatide Improves Hypertension in a Rat Model of the Metabolic Syndrome.  Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, 7(4):327-34, 2009.


6.    Campbell, J.C., Laugero, K.D., Van Westerhuyzen, J.A., Hostetler, C.M., Cohen, J.D., and Bales, K.L. Energetic costs of pair bonding and parental care in male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster).  Physiology and Behavior, 98(3):367-73, 2009.


7.    Mack, C.M., Soares, C.J., Wilson, J.K., Athanacio, J.R., Turek, V., Trevaskis, J., Roth, J., Smith, P.A., Gedulin, B., Jodka, C.M., Roland, B.L., Adams, S.H., Lwin, A., Herich, J., Laugero, K.D., Vu,  C., Pittner, R., Paterniti, Jr., J.R., Hanley, M., Ghosh, S., and Parkes, D.G. Davalintide (AC2307), a Novel Amylin Mimetic Peptide: Enhanced Pharmacological Properties over Native Amylin to Reduce Food Intake and Body Weight.  International Journal of Obesity, 34, 385–395, 2010, on-line 2009.


8.    Laugero, K.D.  Filling in the Gaps of Chronic Psychological Stress Disease Models:  What’s Metabolic Profiling Have to do with it?  Endocrinology:  Invited Editorial/News and Views; 149(6):2712-3, 2008.


9.    Laugero, K.D., Hanley, M., Mack, C., and Parkes, D.  Compositions and Methods for Treating Psychiatric Diseases and Disorders.  PCT/US2008/001500 (Amylin 1202WO1), 2008.


10. Mack, C.M., Wilson, J., Athanacio, J., Reynolds, J., Laugero, K., Guss, S., Vu, C., Roth, J., Parkes, D.  Pharmacological Actions of the Peptide Hormone Amylin in the Long-Term Regulation of Food Intake, Food Preference and Body Weight. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 293(5):R1855-63, 2007.


11. Laugero, K.D., Hanley, M., Mack, C., Parkes, D., and Young, A.  Amylin Agonists for Treating Psychiatric Diseases and Disorders.  PCT Publication No. WO 2006/105527, 2006; U.S. patent# US 07671023, granted 2010.


12. Weyer, C., Laugero, K.D., Mack, C., and Parkes, D. Compositions and Methods for the Control, Prevention, and Treatment of Obesity and Eating Disorders, PCT Publication No. WO 2006/105345, 2006.


13. Applications of Incretin Mimetics for Metabolic Diseases: Preclinical Studies.  DRUG DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH 67:553–558, 2006.


14. Dallman, M.F., Pecoraro, N., la Fleur, S.E., Warne, J.P., Ginsberg, A.B., Akana, S.F., Laugero, K.D., Houshyar, H., Strack, A.M., Bhatnagar, S., and Bell, M.E. Glucocorticoids, Chronic Stress, and Obesity, In:  Progress in Brain Research, Chapter 4: Volume 153, pages 75 – 105, eds. A. Kalsbeek et al.), 2006.


15. Pecoraro, N., Warne, J.P., Ginsberg, A..B., Laugero, K.D, la Fleur, S.E.F., Houshyar, H., Gomez, F., Akana, S.F., Bhargava, A., and Dallman, M.F. From Malthus to Motive: How the HPA Axis Engineers the Phenotype, Yoking Needs to Wants.  Progress in Neurobiology, Volume 79, pages 247 – 340, 2006.


16. Mack, C.M.,  Moore, C., Jodka, C., Bhavsar, S., Wilson, J.K., Hoyt, J., Roan, J., Vu, C.,  Laugero, K.D., Parkes, D.G., and Young, A.A. Antiobesity action of peripheral exenatide (exendin-4) in rodents: effects on food intake, body weight, metabolic status and side-effect measures. International Journal of Obesity, 30(9):1332-40, 2006.


17. Laugero, K.D. Reinterpretation of glucocorticoid feedback in the HPA axis; implications to behavioral and metabolic disease.  Invited review chapter in:  Vitamins and Hormones, Volume 68.  Ed. Gerald Litwack, 2004.


18. Dallman, M.F., Pecoraro, N.,  Akana, S.F., la Fleur, S.E., Gomez, F., Houshyar, H., Bell, M.E., Bhatnagar, S., Laugero, K.D., and Manalo, S. Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of ‘‘comfort food.’’  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(20):  11696–11701, 2003. Faculty 1000 evaluated: 


19. Dallman, M.F., Akana, S.F., Laugero, K.D., Gomez, F., Manalo, S., Bell, M.E., and Bhatnagar, S.  A spoonful of sugar:  feedback signals of energy stores and corticosterone regulate responses to chronic stress.  Physiology and Behavior, 70, 3 – 12, 2003.


20. Laugero, K.D., Gomez, F., Manalo, S., and Dallman, M.F. Corticosterone (B) infused intracerebroventricularly (icv) inhibits energy storage and stimulates the hypothalamo-pituitary axis in adrenalectomized rats drinking sucrose. Endocrinology, 143(12):4552-62, 2002.


21. Bell, M.E., Bhargava, A, Soriano, L, Laugero, K.D., Akana, S.F., Dallman, M.F. Sucrose and corticosterone interact to modulate behavior, energy balance, autonomic outflow, and neuroendocrine responses during chronic cold.  Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 14:4, 330 – 342, 2002.


22. Pecoraro, N., Francisca, G., Laugero, K.D., and Dallman, M.F. Brief access to sucrose engages food-entrainable rhythms in food-deprived rats.  Behavioral Neuroscience, 116(5), 757-76, 2002.


23. Laugero, K.D., Bell, M.E., Bhatnagar, Soriano, S.L., and Dallman, M.F. Sucrose ingestion normalizes central expression of corticotropin-releasing-factor mRNA and energy balance in adrenalectomized rats:  a glucocorticoid-metabolic-brain axis? Endocrinology, 142:7, 2796-2804, 2001.


24. Laugero, K.D. A new perspective on glucocorticoid feedback: relation to stress, carbohydrate feeding, and feeling better. Journal of Neuroendocrinology: Young Investigator Perspectives, 13, 827–835, 2001. 


25. Dallman, M.F., Viau, V.G., Bhatnagar, S., Gomez, F., Laugero, K., and Bell,  M.E. Corticotropin-releasing-factor (CRF), corticosteroids, stress and sugar: energy balance, the brain and behavior.  In: Hormones, Brain, and Behavior, Vol. 1, Pages 571 – 631, 2001. 


26. Belanger, J.M., Son, J.H., Laugero, K.D., Moberg, G.P., Doroshov, S.I., and Cech Jr., J.J. Effects of Short-term Management Stress and ACTH Injections on Plasma Cortisol Levels in Cultured White Sturgeon.  Acipenser transmontanus.  Aquaculture, 203 (165 – 176), 2001.


27. Laugero, K.D. and Moberg, G.P. Effects of acute behavioral stress and LPS-induced cytokine release on growth and energetics in mice. Physiology and Behavior, 68(415-422), 2000.


28. Laugero, K.D. and Moberg, G.P. Energetic response to repeated restraint stress in rapidly growing mice.  American Journal of Physiology: Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism 279:E33-E43, 2000.


29. Laugero, K.D. and Moberg, G.P.  Summation of behavioral and immunological stress: metabolic consequences to the growing mouse.  American Journal of Physiology: Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism 279:E44-E49, 2000.


30. Dallman, M.F., Akana, S.F., Bell, M.E., Bhatnagar S., Choi, S.J., Chu, A., Gomez, F., Laugero, K., Soriano, L., Viau, V.  Warning!  Nearby constructioncan profoundly affect your experiments.  Endocrine, 11: 111-113, 1999.


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Last Modified: 1/27/2012
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