Scientific Biography

Dr. Barson earned her B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University, where she graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University, where she worked with Dr. Bartley G. Hoebel to investigate the role of limbic neurochemicals in alcohol drinking. Her dissertation focused on the idea that alcohol drinking usurps the same neurochemical system that evolved specifically to regulate dietary fat intake. She then conducted her postdoctoral research in Behavioral Neurobiology with Dr. Sarah. F. Leibowitz at The Rockefeller University to study the role of neuropeptides, primarily in the hypothalamus, in fat and alcohol intake. In this work, Dr. Barson showed that rats prone to overconsuming fat and alcohol could be identified with different tests prior to overconsuming these substances and that the different reasons for their overconsumption corresponded with different patterns of neuropeptide dysregulation. Her current research focuses on how neuropeptides in subregions of the paraventricular thalamus communicate with other brain regions to promote alcoholism and obesity and how this too may vary between individuals.