How did you get into medicine?
What were the health conditions of the people in your studies?
What else did you do but not get PhDs?
Why was your research a failure?
What was your major motivation for this project?
What did you learn from this project?
How often did you drink?
Were there any other health problems the patients were having?
Tell me about your first patient.
I took these patients for my Ph.D. at a nearby university, and then in my office I put a microscope over their face and filmed their eyes and recorded conversations. Those patients later had heart surgery on their faces. They’d been waiting for this, I’ll have another one on the way.
What were your research goals?
My research was about the role of the hypothalamus and the peripheral nervous system in the regulation of feeding behavior by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. When this axis is chronically suppressed, hunger and satiation tend to be regulated by the hypothalamus. Because the HPA axis controls multiple functions beyond simply satiation, it’s one of the most significant brain networks involved in feeding behavior.
The hypothalamus is also involved with the regulation of metabolism, reproduction, and body temperature. It seems possible that these functions could be affected by pharmacological inhibition of this axis. In addition to being a target for pharmaceuticals or anti-obesity drugs, there are studies indicating that the suppression of the HPA axis leads to obesity. This effect has been replicated in animals and in humans. If the HPA axis could be reprogrammed to regulate feeding behavior in response to nutritional and pharmacologic interventions, perhaps it might be effective in the prevention of obesity.
How many patients were you studying?
I first got involved in this work because I was asked to do it. I took an anonymous survey of all the young men I knew in which I asked, “How many people have you taken under the influence of alcohol for a chronic medical condition, for a chronic medical or psychiatric problem, or for other reasons? Who are your doctors and psychiatrists and how did you get treated?” Twenty-five of these men took part.
What was your major motivation for this research?
I was interested in getting involved in studying the neuroendocrinology of obesity. There’s been a lot of recent literature showing that the HPA can be suppressed. I
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