Sabrina Diano, PhD

  • Robert R. Williams Professor of Nutrition (in Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics and in the Institute of Human Nutrition)
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Dr. Sabrina Diano is the Robert R. Williams Professor of Nutrition, Director of the Institute of Human Nutrition and Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She is also an adjunct Professor at Yale University, department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

She earned Doctor of Biology and PhD degrees at University of Naples “Federico II” in Naples, Italy. Dr. Diano moved to Yale University from Italy in 1994 to pursue her interest in metabolism regulation.She received her PhD in Physiology in 1999 from the University of Naples “Federico II” in Italy for the studies conducted at Yale University, combining her expertise in neuroendocrinology and mitochondria biology to study brain regulation of energy and glucose metabolism.

She became faculty at Yale University in 2000, where she moved up the ranks. In September 2020, she moved to Columbia University Irving Medical Center to the direct the Institute of Human Nutrition.

Her studies on fundamental principles of metabolism regulation has been nationally and internationally recognized. She has been most recently featured in the Women in Metabolism 2015 series: The “Rosies” of Cell Metabolism, the 10th year anniversary celebrations of Cell Metabolism. Furthermore, in 2015 she was awarded the Novo Nordisk Foundation Laurate Award (that she declined). She was the recipient of the Helmholtz Diabetes Award 2018, from the Helmholtz Society (Germany) for her studies on central control of glucose metabolism. Her studies have been published in high impact journals, including Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, Cell Metabolism, Diabetes, JCI, and PNAS, and her research program has been continuously supported by the National Institute of Health.

Academic Appointments

  • Robert R. Williams Professor of Nutrition (in Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics and in the Institute of Human Nutrition)

Administrative Titles

  • Director, Institute of Human Nutrition


  • Female


Dr. Diano’s research focuses on brain mechanisms regulating energy and glucose homeostasis using interdisciplinary approaches, including molecular biology, anatomy, biochemistry, behavior, electrophysiology, and chemogenetics, in rodent models. Her studies on nutrient sensing by the brain aim to identify inter- and intra-cellular mechanisms that enable brain cells to regulate energy and glucose metabolism and how derangements of these mechanisms induce the development of metabolic disorders. Her research adds critical information to the current understanding of the central regulation of energy and glucose homeostasis and how alterations in stored energy are sensed in the brain.

The results of her research have important implications for the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, disorders that are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S., and the developed world in general, with the highest financial burden on the national economy.

As metabolic dysfunctions have been linked to other disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression, the focus of Dr. Diano’ research involves also studies aiming to decipher the role of metabolic dysfunction in the onset and development of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

Selected Publications

  1. Jin S, Yoon N, Liu ZW, Horvath TL, Kim J, Diano S. DRP1 is required for AgRP neuronal activity and feeding. eLife 10:e64351. doi:10.7554/eLife.64351. PMID:33689681.
  2. Lee ML, Matsunaga H, Sugiura Y, Hayasaka T, Yamamoto I, Ishimoto T, Imoto D, Suematsu M, Iijima N, Kimura K, Diano S, Toda C. Prostaglandin in the ventromedial hypothalamus regulates peripheral glucose metabolism.Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 20;12(1):2330. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22431-6. PMID: 33879780
  3. Bruschetta G, Jin S, Liu ZW, Kim JD, Diano S. MC4R Signaling in Dorsal Raphe Nucleus Controls Feeding, Anxiety, and Depression. Cell Rep. 2020 Oct 13;33(2):108267. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108267.PMID: 33053350.
  4. Kim JD, Yoon NA, Jin S, Diano S (2019) Microglial UCP2 mediates inflammation and obesity induced by high fat feeding. Cell Metabolism 30:952-962. E5. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet2019.08.010. PMID: 31495690
  5. Bruschetta G, Jin S, Kim JD, Diano S (2018) Prolyl carboxypeptidase in Agouti-related Peptide neurons modulates food intake and body weight. Mol Met 10:28-38. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2018.02.003. Epub 2018 Feb 8. PMID: 29459251
  6. Kim JD, Toda C, Ramirez CM, Fernandez-Hernando C, Diano S (2017) Hypothalamic ventromedial Lin28a enhances glucose metabolism in diet-induced obesity. Diabetes, 66 (8):2102-2111. doi: 10.2337/db16-1558. PMID:28550108
  7. Santoro A, Campolo M, Liu C, Sesaki H, Meli R, Liu ZW, Kim JD, Diano S (2017) DRP1 suppresses leptin and glucose sensing of POMC neurons. Cell Metabolism, 25(3):647-660. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.01.003. PMID: 28190775
  8. Toda C, Kim JD, Impellizzeri D, Cuzzocrea S, Liu ZW, Diano S (2016) UCP2 regulates mitochondrial fission and ventromedial nucleus control of glucose responsiveness. Cell 164(5):872-83. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.010. PMID: 26919426
  9. Koch M, Varela L, Kim JG, Kim JD, Hernandez F, Simonds SE, Castorena CM, Vianna CR, Elmquist JK, Morozov YM, Rakic P, Bechmann I, Cowley MA, Szigeti-Buck K, Dietrich MO, Gao X-B, Diano S, Horvath TL (2015) Hypothalamic POMC neurons promote cannabinoid-induced feeding. Nature 519(7541):45-50. doi: 10.1038/nature14260. Epub 2015 Feb 18.
  10. Long L, Toda C, Jeong JK, Horvath TL, Diano S (2014) PPARg-deficient POMC neurons preserve weight control on obesogenic diet. J Clin Invest 124(9):4017-27. doi: 10.1172/JCI76220. PMID: 25083994 
  11. Kim JD, Toda C, D'Agostino G, Zeiss CJ, DiLeone RJ, Elsworth JD, Kibbey RG, Chan O, Harvey BK, Richie CT, Savolainen M, Myöhännen T, Jeong JK, Diano S. (2014) Hypothalamic prolyl endopeptidase (PREP) regulates pancreatic insulin and glucagon secretion in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.  111(32):11876-81. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1406000111.  PMID: 25071172
  12. Diano S, Liu ZW, Jeong JK, Dietrich MO, Ruan HB, Kim E, Suyama S, Kelly K, Gyengesi E, Arbiser JL, Belsham DD, Sarruf DA, Schwartz MW, Bennett A, Shanabrough M, Mobbs CV, Yang X, Gao XB, Horvath TL (2011) Peroxisome proliferation-related hypothalamic control of ROS sets melanocortin tone and feeding in diet-induced obesity. Nature Medicine 2011 17(9):1121-7.
  13. Wallingford N, Perroud B, Gao Q, Coppola A, Gyengesi E, Liu ZW, Gao XB, Diament A, Haus KA, Shariat-Madar Z, Mahdi F, Wardlaw SL, Schmaier AH, Warden CH, Diano S. (2009) Prolylcarboxypeptidase regulates food intake by inactivating alpha-MSH in rodents. J Clin Invest. 119(8):2291-303.
  14. Andrews ZB, Liu ZW, Wallingford N, Erion DM, Borok E, Friedman JM, Tschoep MH, Shanabrough M, Cline GM, Shulman GI, Coppola A, Gao XB, Horvath TL, Diano S (2008) UCP2 mediates ghrelin’s action on NPY/AgRP neurons. Nature 454(7206):846-51.
  15. Coppola A, Liu ZW, Andrews ZB, Paradis E, Roy MC, Friedman JM, Ricquier D, Richard D, Horvath TL, Gao XB, Diano S.  (2007) A central thermogenic-like mechanism in feeding regulation: an interplay between arcuate nucleus T3 and UCP2. Cell Metabolism 5:21-33.