Brenda Richards (Smith), Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Genetics of Eating Behavior
(225) 763-2562
(225) 763-0273
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Ph.D., Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1992


Dr. Richards’ NIH-funded research focuses on the genetic basis for self-selected food intake. Her laboratory has successfully mapped specific chromosomal regions controlling the intake of fat, carbohydrate and total calories using quantitative trait loci (QTL) methodology. Current research includes the identification and characterization of candidate genes underlying a genetic locus controlling carbohydrate intake on mouse Chromosome 17, through fine-mapping in a subcongenic by recipient F2 cross, combined with gene expression profiling (eQTL). The long-term goal of these studies is to identify the molecular genetic mechanisms regulating food intake and activity-induced thermogenesis in the control of energy balance. In addition, her laboratory is investigating the role of fatty acid oxidation in the metabolic control of food intake.


Ghosh S, Kruger C, Wicks S, Simon J, Kumar KG, Johnson WD, Mynatt RL, Noland RC, and Richards BK. Short chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency and short-term high-fat diet perturb mitochondrial energy metabolism and transcriptional control of lipid handling in liver. Nutr & Metab, in press.

Laque A, Yu S, Qualls-Creekmore E, Gettys S, Schwartzenburg C, Bui K, Rhodes C, Berthoud H-R, Morrison CD, Richards BK, Münzberg H. Leptin modulates nutrient reward via inhibitory galanin action on orexin neurons. Mol Metab, 4(10):706-17, 2015.

Simon J, DiCarlo LM, Kruger C, Johnson WD, Kappen C, Richards BK. Gene expression in salivary glands: Effects of diet and mouse chromosome 17 locus regulating macronutrient intake. Physiol Rep 2(3):e12311, 2015.

Gularte-Merida R, DiCarlo LM, Robertson G, Simon J, Johnson WD, Kappen C, Medrano JF, Richards BK. High-resolution mapping of a genetic locus regulating preferential carbohydrate intake, total calories, and food volume on mouse chromosome 17. PLoS ONE, 9(10):e110424, 2014.

Kruger C, Kumar KG, Mynatt RL, Volaufova J, and Richards BK. Brain transcriptional responses to high-fat diet in Acads-deficient mice reveal energy sensing pathways. PLoS ONE,7(8):e41709, 2012.

Berthoud HR, Munzberg H, Richards BK, and Morrison C. Neural and metabolic regulation of macronutrient intake and selection. Proc Nutr Soc, pp 1-11, 2012.

Kumar KG, DiCarlo LM, Volaufova J, Zuberi AR, and Smith Richards BK. Increased physical activity co-segregates with higher intake of carbohydrate and total calories in subcongenic mice. Mammalian Genome 1:52-63, 2010.

Kumar KG and Smith Richards BK. Transcriptional profiling of Chromosome 17 QTL for carbohydrate and total calorie intake in a mouse congenic strain reveals candidate genes and pathways. J Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, 1:155-171, 2008.

Kumar KG, Byerley L, Volaufova J, Drucker DJ, Churchill GA, Li R, York B, Zuberi A, Smith Richards BK. Genetic variation in Glp1r expression influences the rate of gastric emptying in mice. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 294:R362-R371, 2008.

Kumar KG, Poole AC, York B, Volaufova J, Zuberi A, Richards BK. Quantitative trait loci for carbohydrate and total energy intake on mouse Chromosome 17: Congenic strain confirmation and candidate gene analyses (Glo1, Glp1r). Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 292(1):R207-16, 2007.
*Article featured in Editorial Focus, Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 292:R204-6, 2007.
*Article in Highlights from the Literature,Physiology 21:378, 2006.

Smith Richards B. and H.-R. Berthoud. Staying slim on a low-GABA diet. Nat Med, 12:504-506, 2006.

Smith Richards BK, Belton BN, York B, Volaufova J. Mice bearing Acads mutation display altered postingestive but not 5-s orosensory response to dietary fat. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 286:R311-9, 2004.

Smith Richards BK, Belton BN, Poole AC, Mancuso JJ, Churchill GA, Li R, Volaufova J, Zuberi A, and York B. QTL analysis of self-selected macronutrient diet intake: fat, carbohydrate, and total kilocalories. Physiol Genomics 11:205-217, 2002.

Smith, BK, Volaufova J and West DB. Increased flavor preference and lick activity for sucrose and corn oil in SWR/J versus AKR/J mice. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 281:R596-606, 2001.

Smith BK, Andrews PK and West DB. Macronutrient self-selection in thirteen mouse strains. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 278:R797-R805, 2000.

Smith, B.K., P.K. Andrews, D.A. York and D.B. West. Divergence in proportional fat intake in AKR/J and SWR/J mice endures across diet paradigms. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 277:R776-R785, 1999. ^ top