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Assistant Professor of Medicine

Research Summary

Dr. Kaelberer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine – Gastroenterology at Duke University. Her expertise is in sensory neurobiology and her research is focused on the role of the vagus nerve on gut sensory cell function. She has studied the function of a neural circuit between vagal neurons and sensory enteroendocrine cells, or neuropods cells, in the gut. This work led to the publication of a first author paper in Science in 2018 that described an afferent neuroepithelial circuit between enteroendocrine cells and the vagus nerve. This synaptic connection is both necessary and sufficient to transduce a sugar stimulus from gut to brain. Furthermore, she found that sugar transduction differs depending on whether the sugar is caloric (i.e. sucrose) or non-caloric (i.e. sucralose). This difference helps the animal to distinguish which sugar to consume. This work opened an area of research at the center of disorders associated with food choice and consumption. Her work is motivated by the belief that a comprehensive understanding of the afferent and efferent circuitry will lead to a better understanding of functional gastrointestinal disorders by identifying potential therapeutics.

CGIBD Focus Area(s):  Regeneration and Repair

Collaborators:  Bohorquez, Liddle