Joel Elmquist, D.V.M., Ph.D., is Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Director of its Center for Hypothalamic Research. He holds the Carl H. Westcott Distinguished Chair in Medical Research, and is the Maclin Family Professor in Medical Science, in honor of Dr. Roy A. Brinkley. He also serves as the Department of Internal Medicine's Vice Chair of Research.

Originally from Iowa, Dr. Elmquist earned his Ph.D. in veterinary anatomy at Iowa State University. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, later accepting a faculty position there in Medicine and Neurology.

He joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2006.

His research has been continually funded for three decades, including 17 NIH grants as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI. Dr. Elmquist focuses his research on the use of mouse genetics to understand how the brain controls energy balance and glucose homeostasis. He also serves on the editorial boards of several major scientific journals and has served on numerous NIH study sections.

As Director of the Center for Hypothalamic Research, Dr. Elmquist leads a multidisciplinary team of investigators to examine the mechanisms by which the hypothalamus regulates eating, body weight, blood glucose, and related metabolic processes.

As Vice Chair of Research, he supports and promotes high-quality, high-impact research activity among faculty and trainees, and develops strategies for recruitment, retention, and development of scientists and physician-scientists. He also works closely with the Assistant Director for Research to guide the Department's research administration, space allocation, grants management, and research infrastructure planning, renovation, and development.


Graduate School
Iowa St Univ Science Technol (1992), Veterinary Medicine
Graduate School
Iowa St Univ Science Technol (1993), Veterinary Medicine

Research Interest

  • Body Weight Homeostasis
  • Central Autonomic Control
  • Diabetes and Glucose Homeostasis
  • Neurobiology and Neuroanatomy of the Hypothalamus


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Serotonin 2C receptor activates a distinct population of arcuate pro-opiomelanocortin neurons via TRPC channels.
Sohn JW, Xu Y, Jones JE, Wickman K, Williams KW, Elmquist JK Neuron 2011 Aug 71 3 488-97
Steroidogenic factor 1 directs programs regulating diet-induced thermogenesis and leptin action in the ventral medial hypothalamic nucleus.
Kim KW, Zhao L, Donato J, Kohno D, Xu Y, Elias CF, Lee C, Parker KL, Elmquist JK Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2011 Jun 108 26 10673-8
Induction of leptin resistance by activation of cAMP-Epac signaling.
Fukuda M, Williams KW, Gautron L, Elmquist JK Cell Metab. 2011 Mar 13 3 331-9
Melanocortin-4 receptors expressed by cholinergic neurons regulate energy balance and glucose homeostasis.
Rossi J, Balthasar N, Olson D, Scott M, Berglund E, Lee CE, Choi MJ, Lauzon D, Lowell BB, Elmquist JK Cell Metab. 2011 Feb 13 2 195-204
5-HT2CRs expressed by pro-opiomelanocortin neurons regulate insulin sensitivity in liver.
Xu Y, Berglund ED, Sohn JW, Holland WL, Chuang JC, Fukuda M, Rossi J, Williams KW, Jones JE, Zigman JM, Lowell BB, Scherer PE, Elmquist JK Nat. Neurosci. 2010 Dec 13 12 1457-9
Direct insulin and leptin action on pro-opiomelanocortin neurons is required for normal glucose homeostasis and fertility.
Hill JW, Elias CF, Fukuda M, Williams KW, Berglund ED, Holland WL, Cho YR, Chuang JC, Xu Y, Choi M, Lauzon D, Lee CE, Coppari R, Richardson JA, Zigman JM, Chua S, Scherer PE, Lowell BB, Brüning JC, Elmquist JK Cell Metab. 2010 Apr 11 4 286-97
The hypothalamic arcuate nucleus: a key site for mediating leptin's effects on glucose homeostasis and locomotor activity.
Coppari R, Ichinose M, Lee CE, Pullen AE, Kenny CD, McGovern RA, Tang V, Liu SM, Ludwig T, Chua SC, Lowell BB, Elmquist JK Cell Metab. 2005 Jan 1 1 63-72
Activation of central melanocortin pathways by fenfluramine.
Heisler LK, Cowley MA, Tecott LH, Fan W, Low MJ, Smart JL, Rubinstein M, Tatro JB, Marcus JN, Holstege H, Lee CE, Cone RD, Elmquist JK Science 2002 Jul 297 5581 609-11

Honors & Awards

  • Charles H. Stange, DVM Award
    Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine (2014)
  • Mentor Award
    National Postdoctoral Association (2014)
  • Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award
    American Diabetes Association (2014)
  • Ernst Oppenheimer Award
    The Endocrine Society (2008)
  • Iowa State University Excellence in Research Award

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • ADA Grant Review Committee
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association of Anatomists
  • American Diabetes Association
  • Life Sciences Institute Advisory Board
  • Medical College of Wisconsin External Advisory Board
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • The Endocrine Society