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Stanley Hileman, PhD

Associate Professor

Stanley Hileman



Physiology, Pharmacology, & Neuroscience; Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute 

Graduate Training

Ph.D., Animal Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY


Reproductive Biology Training Program, and Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL

Research Interests

The goal of our research is to define the neurobiological pathways controlling food intake and obesity in the female and how those pathways are integrated into a system whereby nutrition can influence body weight and/or fertility. To accomplish this goal, several surgical, endocrine and molecular biology techniques are employed, including radioimmunoassay, in situ hybridization histochemistry, immunocytochemistry, neuroanatomical tract tracing and RT-PCR, with both rodents and sheep being used as models. The work is focused on the neural mechanisms whereby certain circulating metabolic signals, such as leptin, insulin and IGF-1 may regulate food intake and reproduction as well as examining potential sex-dependent differences in these systems.

Research Topics

Obesity in Females 
The incidence of obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, and in particular, West Virginia. According to recent NIH statistics, the cost of obesity in the U.S. rose above 100 billion dollars last year. Not surprisingly, in recent years there has been an increased interest in defining the neural mechanisms whereby the brain controls food intake. However, the vast majority of these studies have examined body weight regulation in males, despite the fact that obesity in human females is at least as prevalent as in males. One focus of our laboratory is to define the neural pathways through which body weight is regulated in females. This includes the identification of pathways in the hypothalamus regulating food intake or energy expenditure that may differ between males and females and examining the mechanisms that make them different. This involves the use of several experimental paradigms, such as food restriction, high-fat feeding, and administration of leptin, an adipose-derived hormone critical in controlling body weight. We have also recently begun studies to examine adiponectin, another fat-derived hormone that may be involved in regulating body weight through actions in the brain. Previous work suggests that males and females regulate body weight differently. Thus, this work may be important for defining sex-dependent treatments for obesity in the future.

Impact of Nutrition on Reproduction  
Nutrition is the major factor impacting reproduction in mammalian species. Nonetheless, little is known about the neural pathways through which inadequate nutrition reduces fertility. Our work focuses on identifying hypothalamic pathways through which endocrine signals such as leptin, insulin, or IGF-1 may influence secretion of gonadotropin releasing-hormone, a hypothalamic decapeptide essential for reproduction. Work is also underway to examine the mechanisms whereby the ability of estradiol to inhibit gonadotropin releasing-hormone is enhanced during negative energy balance. Our hope is to define the neural pathways involved in regulating reproduction during undernutrition with the aim of enhancing reproductive efficiency in domestic animals and fertility in humans. 

Lab Personnel and Collaborators


Dr. Bob Goodman (WVU) 
Neural pathways regulating seasonal reproduction in sheep

Dr. Linda Vona-Davis
Mechanisms whereby obesity influences incidence of cancer 

Dr. William Banks (St. Louis University) 
Brain uptake of leptin and adiponectin

Dr. Douglas Foster (Michigan University) 
Effect of nutrition on reproduction 

Dr. Jay Chung (NIH) 
Intracellular signaling pathways in cancer and obesity 

Dr. Gregg Homanics (University of Pittsburgh) 
Role of neural IGF-1 on reproduction 

Dr. Rexford Ahima (University of Pennsylvania)
Role of adiponectin in the brain

Lab Personnel

Nancy Llanza 
Research assistant 
Nancy got her undergraduate degree at WVU in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.