Faculty Spotlight

Elizabeth G. Mietlicki-Baase, PhD

Elizabeth G. Mietlicki-Baase, PhD, began her faculty appointment with the University at Buffalo in August of 2016.

“I find the study of the mesolimbic reward system interesting because it is relevant for food intake and other motivated behaviors, as well as changes in motivation that occur with conditions such as drug addiction.”
Elizabeth G. Mietlicki-Baase, Assistant Professor
Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Elizabeth G. Mietlicki-Baase, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. She joined the faculty in August 2016 after earning a doctoral degree in behavioral neuroscience at UB and completing postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. Her predoctoral work examined the neurohormonal systems governing both food and fluid intake. In her postdoctoral research, Mietlicki-Baase investigated the distributed neurobiological underpinnings of food intake and body weight control, with particular emphasis on areas of the brain thought to mediate reward processing and motivated behavior.

Now at UB, her current research interests build upon her postdoctoral training and focus on the role of the mesolimbic reward system of the brain in energy intake and food preference. She received a 4-year career development grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to examine the hormone amylin and the role it plays in energy balance control via actions in the mesolimbic reward system.

"We are examining how amylin receptor activation in an area of the brain called the ventral tegmental area (VTA) acts to suppress intake of palatable foods and to suppress body weight, partially by changing dopamine signaling," says Mietlicki-Baase. "Our hypothesis is that amylin receptor activation in this nucleus has more potent effects on fat intake so that it preferentially suppresses fat intake compared to sucrose intake; it does both, but it could be demonstrating a little more robust impact on fat intake."

Ultimately, Mietlicki-Baase says her research is directed at understanding things that can be translationally relevant to the treatment of obesity in humans.

"Right now, we do not have very many non-invasive options for obesity treatment," explains Mietlicki-Baase. "So the goal of my research is to understand, at the brain-level, how these different hormones are impacting food intake and body weight with the goal of harnessing that information to develop more effective pharmacological therapies and potentially coupling that with dietary recommendations to produce a more targeted and effective therapy."