Monica Dus, Ph.D.

Michigan Neuroscience Institute Affiliate
Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

Biological Sciences Building (BSB)
1105 N University Ave.
Room 4214 
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Areas of Interest

The Dus lab studies the effects of the food environment on behavior. We know that around foods with sugar, salt, and fat animals overeat, but how does it happen? How does high dietary sugar alter the basic physiology and biochemistry of the brain to promote food intake and weight gain?

We tackle this question using a multidisciplinary approach at the interface of neuroscience, metabolism, and epigenetics. We use behavioral assays and in vivo imaging to investigate how diet affects the function of sensory and reward circuits, and metabolomics, molecular biology, and genomics to understand how nutrients regulate transcription to alter neural activity and synaptic plasticity. 

Dr. Dus is interested in outreach and science communication and is the host of the LSA How to Science Podcast. She also produces the Neuroepic Podcast, where  students in MCDB 458 Neuroepigenetics compose podcast for the public on the topics of genes, environement, & behavior. She has given several public lectures on science and neuroepigenetics, including for National Academy of Sciences Distinctive Voices, the Kavli Frontiers, Nerdnite Ann Arbor, Nerdnite Brooklyin. She was a 2022 Public Engagment Faculty Fellow and is currently working on several projects with the UM, such as a visual essay, video, and workshop on Food & the Brain.

Dr. Dus earned her Ph.D. in 2008 from the Hannon lab at the Watson School of Biological Sciences, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, studying the role of piRNAs in transposon control. She carried out her postdoctoral work from 2009-2014 at the Skirball Institute at the NYU School of Medicine, investigating how the fruit fly brain perceives the nutrient value of food.  

Published Articles or Reviews

Sarangi M and Dus M*. Crème de la Creature: Dietary Influence on Behavior in Animal Models. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 29 September 2021 |

Vaziri A and Dus M*. Brain on Food: The Neuroepigenetics of Nutrition. Neurochemistry International. Special feature on Epigenetics. Volume 149, 105099, October 2021.

May CE and Dus, M. Confection confusion: Interplay between diet, taste, and nutrition. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2020 Dec 28.

Vaziri A, Khabiri M, Genaw B, Christina E. May CE, Freddolino PL, Dus, M. Persistent epigenetic reprogramming of sweet taste by diet. Science Advances. 2020 Nov 11. 

Web Sites