Stephanie L. Padilla

Assistant Professor

Photograph of First Last
(413) 545-8010
LSL N227

B.A., The University of New Mexico, 1998-2003

Ph.D., Columbia University, 2005-2011


University of Washington, 2011-2018

Research Interests: 

Neural Circuits

Neural Circuits. The endpoints of our research are committed to improving women’s health across life. In particular, we are interested in understanding how dramatic hormone changes during specific transitions in life including: puberty, pregnancy, postpartum and also menopause can influence sleep, metabolism, mood and body temperature. Our lab uses molecular genetics to dissect the neural mechanisms of behavior and physiology. We use a functional circuit-mapping approach to understand how gonadal hormones can influence the brain and consequently behavior. We are also developing in vivo imaging approaches to conversely understand the neural code of specific behaviors.

Remote controlling the brain. To investigate the neural basis of behavior and physiology, our lab uses a combination of mouse and viral reagents. We gain control of genetically distinct neurons using transgenes that are delivered via viral vectors. The transgenes may encode a variety of receptors, channels, toxins, reporters or calcium indicators that allow us to either manipulate or record neural activity in vivo, or trace axonal projections. For example, expression of the transgene, ChR2, enables us to activate neurons using blue light. With targeted light delivery, we can study how distinct neurons impact mouse behavior. Our research is focused on two areas of interest:

1. Understanding how sex hormones impact behavioral decisions and emotional state
2. Resolving the neural circuitry underlying sex differences in body weight regulation

Representative Publications: 

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography:

Sedona N Ewbank, Carlos A Campos, Jane Y Chen, Anna J Bowen, Stephanie L Padilla, Joseph L Dempsey, Julia Yue Cui, Richard D Palmiter. Chronic G q signaling in AgRP neurons does not cause obesity. PNAS, 2020 [PMID: 32764144]

Padilla SL, Perez JG, Ben-Hamo M, Johnson CW, Sanchez R, Bussi I, Palmiter RD, de la Iglesia HO. Kisspeptin Neurons in the Arcuate Nucleus of the Hypothalamus Orchestrate Circadian Rhythms and Metabolism. Current Biology, 2019 [PMDI: 30744968]. Faculty of 1000: Very Good

Fergani C, Leon S, Padilla SL, Verstegen AM, Palmiter RD, Navarro VM. NKB signaling in the posterodorsal medial amygdala stimulates gonadotropin release in a kisspeptin-independent manner in female mice. Elife, 2018 [PMCID: 6300354]

Padilla SL*, Johnson CJ*, Barker FD, Patterson MA, Plamiter RD. A Neural Circuit Underlying the Generation of Hot Flushes. Cell Reports, 2018 [PMDI: 29996088] Faculty of 1000: Very Good

Qui J, Rivera HM, Bosch MA, Padilla SL, Stincic TL, Palmiter RD, Kelly MJ, Rønnekleiv OK. Estrogenic-dependent Glutamatergic Neurotransmission from Kisspeptin Neurons Governs Feeding Circuits in females. eLife, 2018 [PDMI: 30079889]

Padilla SL, Qui J, Nestor CC, Zhang C, Smith AW, Jarvie BC, Whiddon BB, Rønnekleiv OK, Kelly MJ, Palmiter RD. Hypothalamic AgRP Neurons Link Nutritional State and Fertility. PNAS, 2017 [PMID: 28196880]. Faculty of 1000: Exceptional

Padilla, SL, Qui J, Soden, ME, Sanz E, Nestor CC, Barker, FDL, Quintana A, Zweifel LS, Rønnekleiv OK, Kelly MJ, Palmiter RD. Agouti-related Peptide Neural Circuits Mediate Adaptive Behaviors in the Starved State. Nature Neuroscience, 2016 [PMID: 27019015]. Selected for the Cover (Vol 19 no.5)

Qiu J, Nestor CC, Zhang C, Padilla SL, Palmiter RD, Kelly MJ, Rønnekleiv OK. High-frequency Stimulation-induced Peptide Release synchronizes Arcuate Kisspeptin Neurons and Excites GnRH neurons. eLife, 2016 [PMID: 27549338]. Faculty of 1000: Exceptional

Nestor CC, Qiu J, Padilla SL, Zhang C, Bosch MA, Fan W, Aicher SA, Palmiter RD, Rønnekleiv OK, Kelly MJ. Optogenetic stimulation of arcuate nucleus Kiss1 neurons reveals a steroid-dependent glutamatergic input to POMC and AgRP neurons in male mice. Molecular Endocrinology, 2016 [PMID: 27093227]