Academic Faculty

Michelle T. Foster, Ph.D.

Michelle T. Foster, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

207 Gifford Building | (970) 491-6189 |

Research Interests:

Research Interest Phrases
  • Adipose Tissue Regulation (Metabolic and Adipokine)
  • Diet Induced Obesity and Hepatic Steatosis
  • Visceral Fatty Acids Relation to Insulin Resistance
  • Adipose Removal Induced Metabolic Improvements
Specific Interest

Obesity is the net result of an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure; i.e., an excess of energy intake without increased expenditure will eventually lead to increased adipose mass. Several lines of evidence imply that obesity-related adverse health consequences occur predominately in individuals with upper body fat distribution commonly associated with increased visceral adipose tissue. Metabolic disorders derived from upper body/visceral obesity includes dyslipidemia, hypertension, insulin resistance and type-2-diabetes. The primary goal of this lab is to establish the role visceral obesity plays in metabolic dysfunction and if the effects are due to anatomical site (venous drainage to the liver) and/or substrate release.


  • Berry College, Rome, GA (1995-1997), majoring in biochemistry
  • Spelman College, Atlanta, GA (1997-2000), B.S. in chemistry
  • Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA (2000-2005), Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior, Advisor Tim Bartness
  • University of California, San Francisco (Department of Physiology), (2005-2007), Fellow with Mary Dallman
  • University of Cincinnati (Department of Psychiatry), (2007-2010), Fellow with Stephen Woods and Randall Sakai

Professional Experience:

  • 1999 Internship (Laboratory Assistant), Case Western Reserve University- School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH
  • 1999-2000 Scientist I, Kimberly Clark Corporation (Analytical Division), Roswell, GA
  • 2000-2005 PhD Candidate, Georgia State University (Department Neuroscience and Behavior), Atlanta, GA.
  • 2005-2007 Post-Doc, University of California, San Francisco (Department of Physiology), San Francisco, CA.
  • 2007-2010 Post-Doc, University of Cincinnati, Medical School (Department of Psychiatry), Cincinnati, OH
  • 2010-2011 Research Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati, Medical School (Department of Psychiatry), Cincinnati, OH
  • 2011-Present Assistant Professor, Colorado State University (Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition), Fort Collins, CO

Other Experience and Professional Memberships:

  • 2001-Present - Member, Society for Neuroscience
  • 2001-Present - Member, American Physiological Society
  • 2001-Present - Member, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
  • 2005-Present - Member, American Neuroendocrine Society
  • 2010-Present - Member, Keystone Symposia
  • 2011-Present - Editorial Board, Adipoctye
  • 2012-Present - Member, The Obesity Society
  • 2012-Present – Planning Committee, CSU Multicultural Undergraduate Research and Leadership Conference
  • 2013-Present - Review Panel Member, NIH/NIAAA – AA-1 Study Section

Honors and Awards:

  • 2014 Keystone Early Investigator Travel Award, Cell Death Signaling in Cancer and the Immune System, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 2014 Keystone Early Investigator Travel Award, Diabetes and Metabolic Dysfunction, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 2013 Keystone Early Investigator Travel Award, Innate Immunity, Metabolism and Vascular Injury Meeting, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2013 AGEP Minority Recruitment Grant
  • 2012, 2013 College of Applied Human Science Mini-Grant Award
  • 2011 Basic Science Research Award, NIDDK, NMRI
  • 2011 NIDDK Awardees Workshop – Travel Award
  • 2011, 2012 NIDDK Network of Minority Research Investigators – Travel Award
  • 2010 Keystone Symposia Scholariship – Travel Award
  • 2010 National Institute of General Medical Sciences Workshop - Travel Award
  • 2010 Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence Retreat – Poster Award Winner

Most Relevant to Current Interests:

  • Pagliassotti M.J., Moran G., Estrada A. and Foster M.T. Endoplasmic reticulum stress in obesity: Adipose Tissue and Adipokines in Health and Disease (2nd Edition). Carol Braunschweig and Giamila Fantuzzi, editors. Springer Publishers (In Press).
  • Cox-York K., Wei Y., D. Wang, Pagliassotti M.J. and Foster M.T. Lower Body Adipose Tissue Removal Decreases Glucose Tolerance and Insulin Sensitivity in Mice with Acute Exposure to High Fat Diet. (Adipocyte, in press)
  • Booth A, Magnuson A and Foster M.T. Detrimental and Protective Fat: Body Fat Distribution and Its Relation to Metabolic Disease. Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation Jan; 17(1) (2014)
  • Foster M.T., Softic S., Caldwell J., Kohli R., de Kloet A.D., Seeley R.J and Woods S.C. Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue Transplantation in Diet-induced Obese Mice Attenuates Metabolic Dysregulation While Removal Exacerbates It. Physiological Reports Aug 1(2) (2013) PMID: 2391498
  • Foster M.T. and Pagliassotti M.J. Metabolic Risk Of Visceral Fat Expansion: Not Simply Anatomical Location. Adipocyte Oct/Nov/Dec 1(4) (2012)
  • Bajzer M., Olivieri M., Haas M., Pfluger P., Magrisso I., Foster M.T., Tschöp M., Krawczewski Carhuatanta K., Cota D. and Obici S. CB1 Antagonism Enhances Glucose Utilization and Activates Brown Adipose Tissue in Diet-Induced Obese Mice. Accepted, Diabetologia Dec; 54(12): 3121-31 (2011); PMID 21987346
  • Foster M.T., Shi H., Softic S., Kohli K., Seeley R.J and Woods S.C. Visceral Adipose Transplantation-Induced Improvements in Glucose Tolerance in Mice: Alterations in Liver Fat Metabolism. Diabetologia Nov; 54(11): 2890-9 (2011); PMID 21805228
  • Foster M.T., Shi H., Seeley R.J and Woods S.C. Intra-abdominal Visceral and Non-visceral Adipose Tissue Removal Improves Glucose Tolerance in Rats: Prospective Role of Hepatic Triglyceride Storage. Physiol Behav. Oct 24; 104(5): 845-54 (2011); PMID 21683727
  • Foster M.T., Shi H., Seeley R.J and Woods S.C. Transplantation or Removal of Visceral Adipose Tissue Prevents Aged-Induced Glucose Insensitivity. Physiology and Behavior Sep; 1; 101(2): 282-8 (2010); PMID 20570685
  • Foster, M.T., Song C.K. and Bartness, T.J. Hypothalamic Paraventricular Nucleus Lesion Involvement in the Sympathetic Control of Lipid Mobiliztion, Obesity April; 18(4):682-9 (2010); PMID 19851310
Other Publications
  • de Kloet A.D., Krause E.G., Scott K.A., Foster M.T., Herman J.P., Sakai R.R., Seeley R.J. and Woods S.C. Central Angiotensin-II has Catabolic Action at White and Brown Adipose Tissue. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Dec; 301(6): E1081-91 (2011); PMID 21862725
  • Solomon M.B., Woods S.C., Sakai R.R. and Foster M.T. Metabolic Consequences Associated with Social Stress in the Syrian Hamster: Role of Glucocorticoids. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Aug: 301(2): E307-16 (2011); PMID 21540447

Book Chapters:

  • Magnuson A., Booth A. and Foster M.T. Omentectomy as a Procedure for the Co-Morbidities of Obesity. Abdominal Surgery: Types, Potential Complications and Perioperative Management and Outcomes. (Book ID 4540, Chapter ID 22609) (2013) Nova Publishers, Hauppauge, NY
  • Pagliassotti M.J., Moran G., Estrada A. and Foster M.T. Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Obesity: Adipose Tissue and Adipokines in Health and Disease (2nd Edition) (2012). Carol Braunschweig and Giamila Fantuzzi, editors. Springer Publishers.
  • NIH/NIDDK K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award, Mentors: Stephen Woods and Patrick Tso (2010-2014)

Research Support:

Ongoing Research Support

  • NIH NIDDK (PI) DK09945 – 2014-2016. Metabolic Benefits of Subcutaneous Fat Accumulation $100,000
  • NIH R03 (PAR-13-074) Effective Dates: 4/1/2014-3/31/2017 NIH NIDDK Title: Understanding the Biology of the Plasticity of Visceral Fat The goal is to attempts to examine how extrinsic communication and concomitant adipocyte function of the visceral adipose depot are altered following energy storage perturbations.
  • NIH R03 (PAR-09-230) Effective Dates: 9/16/2012-9/07/2015 NIH, NIDDK Title: Metabolic Benefits of Peripheral Adipose Tissue Accumulation The goal is to establish how peripheral subcutaneous adipose tissue protects against the secondary consequences of obesity.