Kristy Townsend


  • PhD Neuroscience, Boston University, 2007


Kristy Townsend, Ph.D. trained as a neuroscientist and has been investigating how the brain and nervous system affect physiological energy balance for more than 15 years. Currently at Ohio State University, Townsend oversees a laboratory of 15-20 students at various levels of study, and also teaches Introduction to Neuroscience and an upper level Cell Biology course. Research in the Townsend Laboratory is focused on mechanisms of adult neural plasticity and neurogenesis, as well as how the brain talks to adipose (or, fat) tissues via peripheral nerves. These investigations inform the prevention and treatment of metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The lab recently became more interested in the impacts of dietary fats and aging on energy balance and peripheral nerve function. Prior to joining the faculty at UMaine, Townsend was a postdoctoral fellow and then junior faculty member at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston. While there, she was the recipient of the American Diabetes Association’s Junior Faculty Award.

The Townsend Lab is currently accepting rotating students and has an opening for a new Ph.D. student, funded by our NSF-CAREER award, to investigate adult stem cells in the brain. Learn more at

Research Interests

The Townsend Lab is interested in how the brain coordinates energy balance and how the central and peripheral nervous systems undergo plasticity.  This research impacts the study of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.  We utilize both in vitro andin vivo models, in the fields of neurobiology, metabolism & biochemistry, physiology & endocrinology, and cell/molecular biology.  Our work includes the following topics: obesity and body weight regulation; hypothalamic and extra-hypothalamic control of appetite; CNS fuel utilization and energetics; dietary/nutritional effects on energy balance; control of adipose tissue development and function (brown and white adipose tissues); activation of energy expenditure via peripheral nerve activity in adipose depots; adult neural stem cells; neurotrophic factors and neuropathy; and central and peripheral neural plasticity.

Selected Publications

See at

Dissertation Students

Gabriel Jensen

Past Students

Magdalena Blaszkiewicz