How metabolic hormones like ghrelin influence reward-seeking behaviours via actions on the brain systems related to reward and fear

How prenatal factors like diet, environmental pollutants, or gestational diabetes influence the development of brain systems implicated in the regulation of feeding and energy balance in offspring

How the hormone ghrelin influences feeding as a coping mechanism to mitigate the effects of chronic social stress


Dr. Alfonso Abizaid

Principle Investigator

Dr. Barbara Woodside

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Marina Galleazzo Martins

Postdoctoral Fellow

Andrea Smith

PhD Student, Neuroscience

Brenna MacAulay

PhD Student, Neuroscience

Andre Telfer

MSc Student, Neuroscience

Kiara Ayoub

MSc Student, Neuroscience

Aditi Sankhe

MSc Student, Neuroscience

Zachary Silver

MSc Student, Neuroscience

Frances Sherratt

MSc Student, Neuroscience

Kejah Bascon

MSc Student, Neuroscience

Zita Kolano

Undergraduate Student, Psychology

Ben Nikkel

Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience

Kara McClenaghan

Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience

Sasha Hughes

Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience

Madeline Reis

Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience

Emma Barber

Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience and Biology

Ayesha Khan

Undergraduate Student, Neuroscience


Former Graduate Students


For a comprehensive listing of peer-reviewed articles authored by Dr. Alfonso Abizaid, please visit his Google Scholar profile here.

Hyland, L., Park, S. -B., Abdelaziz, Y., & Abizaid, A. (2021). Metabolic effects of ghrelin delivery in the hypothalamic ventral premammilary nucleus of male mice. Physiology & Behavior, 228, eArticle 113208.

Hyland, L., Park, S. -B., Abdelaziz, Y., & Abizaid, A. (2020). Ghrelin infused into the dorsomedial hypothalamus of male mice increases food intake and adiposity. Physiology & Behavior, 220, eArticle 112882.

Abizaid, A. (2019). Stress and obesity: The ghrelin connection. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 31, eArticle 12693.

Hyland, L., Rosenbaum, S., Edwards, A., Palacios, D., Graham, M. D., Pfaus, J. G., Woodside, B., & Abizaid, A. (2018). Central ghrelin receptor stimulation modulates sex motivation in male rats in a site dependent manner. Hormones and Behavior, 97, 56-66.

Edwards, A., & Abizaid, A. (2016). Driving the need to feed: Insight into the collaborative interaction between ghrelin and endocannabinoid systems in modulating brain reward systems. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 66, 33-53.

King, S. J., Rodrigues, T., Watts, A., Murray, E., Wilson, A., & Abizaid, A. (2016). Investigation of a role for ghrelin signalling in binge-like feeding in mice under limited access to high fat diet. Journal of Neuroscience, 319, 233-245.

MacKay, H., Charbonneau, V. R., St-Onge, V., Murray, E., Watts, A., Wellman, M. K., & Abizaid, A. (2016). Rats with a truncated ghrelin receptor (GHSR) do not respond to ghrelin, and show reduced intake of palatable, high-calorie food. Physiology & Behavior, 163, 88-96.

St-Onge, V., Watts, A., & Abizaid, A. (2016). Ghrelin enhances cue-induced bar pressing for high fat food. Hormones and Behavior, 78, 141-149.

Wellman, M., & Abizaid, A. (2015). Knockdown of central ghrelin-o-acyltransferase by vivo-morpholino reduces body mass of rats fed a high-fat diet. Peptides, 70, 17-22.

Waddington Lamont, E., Bruton, J., Blum, I. D., & Abizaid, A. (2014). Ghrelin receptor-knockout mice display alterations in circadian rhythms of activity and feeding under constant lighting conditions. European Journal of Neuroscience, 39, 207-217.

Sotonyi, P, Mezei, G., Racz, B., Dallman, M. F., Abizaid, A., & Horvath, T. L. (2010). Gonadotropin-releasing hormone fibres contact POMC neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. Reproductive Sciences, 17(11), 1024-1028.

Patterson, Z. R., Ducharme, R., Anisman, H., & Abizaid, A. (2010). Altered metabolic and neurochemical responses to chronic unpredictable stressors in ghrelin receptor-deficient mice. European Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 632-639.

  • Faulkner, A., Hellemans, K., Abizaid, A. & D’Angiulli, A. (2013). The neurophysiology of craving and drug-related cues: Evidence from event-related potentials. In J. M. Honeycutt, C. R. Sawyer, & S. A. Keaton (Eds.) The influence of communication in physiology and health status (1st ed., pp. 189-206). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

  • Abizaid, A., Luheshi, G., & Woodside, B. C. (2013). Interaction between immune and energy balance signals in the regulation of feeding and metabolism. In Anisman, A., & Kusnicov, A. (Eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of psychoneuroimmunology (1st ed., pp. 488-503), Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Abizaid, A. & Amir, S. (2010). Feeding and appetite. In I. P. stolerman (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology (1st ed., pp. 447-450). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

  • Anisman, H., Merali, Z., Matheson, K. & Abizaid, A. (2010). Stress, trauma and substance use disorders. In Vaccarino, F. (Ed.) Substance Abuse in Canada (1st ed., pp. 12-19). Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

  • Tannebaum, B., Anisman, H., Abizaid, A. (2009). Neuroendocrine stress response and its impact on eating behaviour and body weight. In Dube, L., Bechara, A., Dagher, A., Drewnowski, A., LeBel, J., James, P., Richard, D. & Yada, R.Y. (Eds.) Role of society and brain on individual behavior.

  • Abizaid, A., and Horvath, T. L. (2009). Hierarchy of neural pathways controlling energy homeostasis. In Frübeck, G. (Ed.) Peptides in energy balance and obesity. CABI Publishing.


Welcome to the Abizaid Lab. We are a group of researchers and students in the Department of Neuroscience at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Our focus is primarily on the hormone ghrelin and its related systems.

The Abizaid Lab at Carleton University is located on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people. We are grateful for the opportunity to work and study here and we thank the many generations of people who cared for this land.


For questions or collaborations, please contact:

Alfonso Abizaid, PhD
+1(613) 520-2600 ext. 1544

Carleton University
Department of Neuroscience
5308 Health Sciences Building
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6