John Campbell

Assistant Professor of Biology
483 Gilmer Hall
(434) 243-1797


  • B.S., Biological Psychology, The College of William and Mary, 2002
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2012
  • Postdoctoral, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 2012-2018

Research Interests

Organisms must eat to survive but the consumption, storage, and use of energy, collectively known as energy balance, is a complex process. The brain plays a central role in this process by monitoring the organism’s energy needs and storage and adjusting its energy intake accordingly. However, the relevant neuron populations, and the circuits they form, are largely unknown. Our lab is therefore working to identify these neuron populations, their circuits and specific roles in energy balance. First, we identify the neuron populations using high-throughput single-cell transcriptomics and unsupervised clustering analysis. This analysis reveals genetic markers that we then use to gain genetic access to specific neuron populations, map their synaptic circuitry, and monitor and manipulate the activity of specific circuits in vivo. Such functional studies can link genetically-defined neuron populations with specific behaviors and physiologic processes, ultimately leading to a mechanistic understanding of how the brain controls energy balance. Our previous work generated a comprehensive “census” of cell types in the arcuate hypothalamus and median eminence and uncovered several novel types of neurons that potently control feeding behavior (Nature Neurosci, 2017a,b; Nature Neurosci, 2016). We are also examining distinct neural circuits that control different functions of the digestive system, including gastric motility and insulin secretion. Together these studies will advance our understanding of how brain controls energy balance by revealing the cell types, signals, and circuits that make it possible.

  • Campbell JN, Macosko EZ, Fenselau H, Pers T, Lyubetskaya A, Tenen D, Goldman M, Verstegen A, Resch JM, McCarroll SA, Rosen ED, Lowell BB, and Tsai L. A Molecular Census of Arcuate Hypothalamus and Median Eminence Cell Types. Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Mar;20(3):484-496. doi: 10.1038/nn.4495. PMID: 28166221. PMCID: PMC5323293.
  • Fenselau H*, Campbell JN*, Verstegen A*, Madara J, Xu J, Shah B, Resch JN, Yang Z, Mandelblat-Cerf Y, Livneh Y, and Lowell BB. An excitatory ARC to PVH circuit that rapidly induces satiety and is regulated by alpha-MSH. Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Jan;20(1):42-51. doi: 10.1038/nn.4442. PMID: 27869800. PMCID: PMC5191921 *equal contributing first-authors.
  • Resch JM, Fenselau H, Madara JC, Wu C, Campbell JN, Lyubetskaya A, Dawes BA, Tsai LT, Li MM, Livneh Y, Ke Q, Kang PM, Fejes-Tóth G, Náray-Fejes-Tóth A, Geerling JC, Lowell BB. Aldosterone-Sensing Neurons in the NTS Exhibit State-Dependent Pacemaker Activity and Drive Sodium Appetite via Synergy with Angiotensin II Signaling. Neuron. 2017 Sep 27;96(1):190-206.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.09.014. PMID: 28957668. PMCID: PMC5637454.
  • Garfield AS, Shah BP, Burgess CR, Li MM, Li C, Steger JS, Madara JC, Campbell JN, Kroeger D, Scammell TE, Tannous BA, Myers MG, Jr., Andermann ML, Krashes MJ, Lowell BB. Dynamic GABAergic afferent modulation of AgRP neurons. Nature Neuroscience. 2016 Dec;19(12):1628-1635. doi: 10.1038/nn.4392. PMID: 27643429. PMCID: PMC5382799.
  • Garfield AS, Li C, Madara JC, Shah BP, Webber E, Steger JS, Campbell JN, Gavrilova O, Lee CE, Olson DP, Elmquist JK, Tannous BA, Krashes MJ, Lowell BB. A neural basis for melanocortin-4 receptor-regulated appetite. Nature Neuroscience. 2015;18(6):863-71. doi: 10.1038/nn.4011. PMID: 25915476. PMCID: PMC4446192.
  • Kong D, Dagon Y, Campbell JN, Guo Y, Yang Z, Yi X, Aryal P, Wellenstein K, Kahn BB, Sabatini BL, Lowell BB. A Postsynaptic AMPK→p21-Activated Kinase Pathway Drives Fasting-Induced Synaptic Plasticity in AgRP Neurons. Neuron. 2016; 91(1):25-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.05.025. PMID: 27321921. PMCID: PMC4938763.