Our research centers on the understanding and alleviation of diet-induced chronic diseases, in particular the development and prevention of obesity.

What Do We Study?

The bug-gut-brain axis

  • Gut-brain communication and regulation of food intake

    • All along the gastrointestinal tract signals sensing the quantity and quality of food are being sent to the brain

    • Proper gut-brain communication is critical to regulate food intake

    • Ingestion of certain foods leads to dysregulation of gut-brain signaling and weight gain

Diet notably influences the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiota

  • The microbiota influences gut-brain communication, food intake and obesity

  • Bacterial originating inflammatory factors seem to have an important role in the development of obesity

Recent Awards

Recipient of the DAAD RISE Internship in Germany, 2017, Ruth Schade

Outstanding Dietetic Student-Intern Award, Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017, Carolina Cawthon

Georgia Nutrition Council Holley B. Alley Scholarship, 2017, Carolina Cawthon

View all Foods and Nutrition Awards

Research Projects

Key personnel:
Claire de La Serre

Project Description:

Funding Source:

Key personnel:
Claire de La Serre, Carolina Cawthon

Project Description:
In this project, we are investigating the potential neurotoxicity of bacteria and/or bacterial products being released into the circulation in when high fat foods are consumed.

Funding Source:
Carolina Cawthon is the recipient of a Graduate School Assistantship.

Key personnel:
Claire de La Serre, Jiyoung Kim, Carolina Cawthon

Project Description:
This project investigates the influence of the microbiota on reward signaling and motivation for food as well as the route of communication between the microbiota and the brain

Funding Source:
Dr. de La Serre received a R21 grant from NIH-NIDKK to support this project.

Key personnel:
Claire de La Serre, Elizabeth Klingbeil, Ruth Schade

Project Description:
This project investigates if manipulation of feeding patterns, such as a reduction in snacking episodes, can improve microbiota composition, systemic inflammation and prevent HF diet-induced insulin resistance.

Funding Source:
Dr. de La Serre was awarded a UGA Junior Faculty Research grant in 2016 to support this project.

Key personnel:
Claire de La Serre, Rebecca Kirkland, Brittany Whitlock*

Project Description:
Maternal microbiota has a great influence on the offspring microbiota composition. In this project, we are investigating the potential detrimental effect of maternal obesity on offspring microbiota composition, gastrointestinal functions and predisposition towards obesity.

Funding Source:
*Brittany Whitlock worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the lab. She received a CURO assistantship in 2014 and the Carolyn Berdanier award in 2015 for her work on this project. She graduated with Summa cum laude in 2016 and is now attending Emory School of Medicine.

Meet the Staff

Name Job Title / Department Contact

Claire de La Serre

Assistant Professor

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Dr. de La Serre is an Assistant Professor in the department of Foods and Nutrition, her research examines the influence of diet composition on gut microbiota, gut-brain signaling and regulation of food intake.

372 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-4873

Rebecca Kirkland

Laboratory Manager II

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

372 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-4873

Carolina R Cawthon

PhD Candidate

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

372 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-4873

Jiyoung Kim

Ph.D. Student

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

372 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-4873

Elizabeth Klingbeil

PhD/DI Student

Foods and Nutrition

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

372 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
706-542-4873