Elizabeth R. Gilbert

Associate Professor

  • Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Animal Nutrition, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

From an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology to a postdoctoral research position in the area of comparative genomics, I have always had a strong interest in the evolutionary basis of complex traits and adaptations that confer unique physiological attributes to different species. My Master’s and Ph.D. research focused on the regulation of gene expression of intestinal nutrient transporters in black bears and birds and through this research I cultivated my passion for nutritional science and molecular biology, in particular the understanding of how nutrients regulate gene expression and cellular functions. I completed a postdoctoral appointment in the area of pancreatic beta cell regeneration where I identified plant-based compounds with effects on beta cell proliferation and viability in culture and confirmed their anti-diabetic effects in a mouse model. I also conducted postdoctoral research in the area of nutritional proteomics; using a mass spectrometric-based approach to identify proteins involved in the development of the small intestine in birds from lines that had undergone selection for growth under different nutritional environments. My final postdoctoral project, in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Medical Biology at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, involved characterizing the function of a transcription factor that was identified as a repressor of insulin-like growth factor 2, ZBED6, using a variety of functional genomics-based approaches in different cell types. I assumed a tenure-track faculty position at Virginia Tech in 2012 and have since established a research program that focuses on understanding the molecular basis for eating disorders, insulin resistance, and obesity, using chicks as the primary research model.

My research is aimed at developing strategies to reduce the prevalence of obesity and eating disorders. I use birds as a model to study interactions of genetic background, diet, hormone and neuropeptide, and developmental effects on regulation of appetite, adipose tissue physiology and insulin resistance. The overarching objective of my research is to elucidate molecular mechanisms and cellular signaling pathways associated with adipose development, with an emphasis on the brain-fat axis. Using a primary cell culture platform and in vivo approaches, we have studied how various appetite-regulating peptides, such as neuropeptide Y and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone, regulate appetite-associated pathways in the hypothalamus and also adipogenesis, adipocyte hypertrophy, and lipolysis in the adipose tissue. We are also researching the impact of early-life nutrition and stress exposure on metabolic outcomes later in life, with an emphasis on epigenetic changes associated with appetite-regulatory factors in the hypothalamus. The Virginia lines of chickens, existing only at Virginia Tech, serve as an important model for this research. These lines originate from a common founder population and for more than 60 consecutive generations have been selected for low and high body weight, which has led to correlated responses in appetite and body composition. The anorexic line consists of lean individuals with varying severities of anorexia, whereas the obese line consists of compulsive feeders that all become obese. From a biomedical perspective, these lines are a valuable resource for researching eating disorders and communication between the brain and adipose tissue. From an agricultural perspective, this research has direct relevance to improving animal production efficiency.

I am also passionate about teaching and instruct animal nutrition and cellular and molecular neuroscience courses at Virginia Tech.

(*Graduate Student, **Undergraduate Student, ***Post-Baccalaureate Research and Education Program Scholar)

  • Shipp, S.*, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2016. Promotion of adipogenesis by neuropeptide Y during the later stages of chicken preadipocyte differentiation. Physiological Reports. In Press.
  • McConn, B.*, J. Matias**, G. Wang*, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2016. Dietary macronutrient composition affects hypothalamic appetite regulation in chicks. Nutritional Neuroscience. In Press.
  • Shipp, S.*, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2016. Recent advances in the understanding of how neuropeptide Y and α-melanocyte stimulating hormone function in adipose physiology. Adipocyte. In Press.
  • Zhang, S.*, B. Saremi, E. Gilbert, and E. Wong. 2016. Physiological and biochemical aspects of methionine isomers and their analogue in broilers. Poultry Science. In Press.
  • Scheel, A., N. Deal, N. St. John, A. Wells, M. Caruso, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2016. LPRLFamide exerts short-term anorexigenic effects via the magnocellular division of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus.  General and Comparative Endocrinology. In Press.
  • Yi, J., M. Delp, E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, and M. Cline. 2016. Anorexia is associated with stress-dependent orexigenic responses to exogenous neuropeptide Y. J. Neuroendocrinology. In Press.
  • McConn, B., J. Yi, E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, V. Chowdhury, M. Furuse, and M. Cline. 2016. Stimulation of food intake after central administration of gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone is similar between genetically selected low and high body weight lines of chickens. General and Comparative Endocrinology. In Press.
  • Matias, J., E. Gilbert, M. Denbow, and M. Cline. 2016. Effects of intracerebroventricular injection of rosiglitazone on appetite-associated parameters in chicks. General and Comparative Endocrinology. In Press.
  • Zhang, H., E. Gilbert, S. Pan, K. Zhang, X. Ding, J. Wang, Q. Zeng, and S. Bai. 2015. Dietary iron concentration influences serum concentrations of manganese in rats consuming organic or inorganic sources of manganese. British J. Nutrition.  In Press.
  • Liu, L., D. Li, E. Gilbert, Q. Xiao, X. Zhao, Y. Wang, H. Yin, and Q. Zhu. Effect of monochromatic light on expression of estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) in ovarian follicles of chickens. 2015. PLoS ONE. 10: e0144102.
  • Zhang, H., E. Gilbert, K. Zhang, X. Ding, Y. Luo, J. Wang, Q. Zeng, and S. Bai. 2015. Uptake of manganese from a manganese-lysine complex in rat primary intestinal epithelial cells. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. In Press.
  • Davis, M.**, R. Jessee, M. Close, X. Fu, R. Settlage, G. Wang*, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2015. Fasting for 21 days leads to changes in adipose tissue and liver physiology in juvenile checkered garter snakes (Thamnophis marcianus). Comp. Biochem. and Physiol. Part A: Mol. and Integ. Physiol. 190:68-74.
  • Parker, G.**, L. Sumners*, X. Zhao, C. Honaker, P. Siegel, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2015. Delayed access of low body weight-selected chicks to food at hatch is associated with up-regulated pancreatic glucagon and glucose transporter gene expression. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology. 189:124-9.
  • Bai, S., G. Wang*, W. Zhang*, S. Zhang*, B. Rice***, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2015. Broiler chicken adipose tissue dynamics during the first two weeks post-hatch. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology. 189:115-23.
  • Shipp, S.**, M. Smith, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. Beta-cell-tropin is associated with short-term stimulation of food intake in chicks. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 224:278-82.
  • Wang, G.*, T. Tachibana, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. Exogenous prolactin-releasing peptide’s orexigenic effect is associated with hypothalamic neuropeptide Y in chicks. Neuropeptides. 54:79-83.
  • Shipp, S.**, J. Yi, S. Dridi, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. The central anorexigenic mechanism of adrenocorticotropic hormone involves the caudal hypothalamus in chicks. Neuropeptides. 53:29-35.
  • Wang, G.*, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. Dietary macronutrient composition affects the influence of exogenous prolactin-releasing peptide on appetite responses and hypothalamic gene expression in chickens. J. Nutr. 145:2406-11.
  • Yuan, Y., X. Zhao, Q. Zhu, J. Li, H. Yin, E. Gilbert, Y. Zhang, Y. Liu, Y. Wang, D. Li, and Z. Yang. 2015. Effects of dietary lysine levels on carcass performance and biochemical characteristics of Chinese local broilers. Italian Journal of Animal Science. 28:763-70.
  • McConn, B., J. Park, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. A novel role for xenopsin: stimulation of food intake. Behavioral Brain Research. 292:500-7.
  • Zhang, W.*, D. Didehvar***, G. Wang*, J. Yi*, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. Anorexigenic effect of serotonin is associated with changes in hypothalamic nuclei activity in an avian model. General and Comparative Endocrinology. Epub ahead of print.
  • Yi J., E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, and M. Cline. 2015. Fed and fasted chicks from lines divergently selected for low or high body weight have differential hypothalamic appetite-associated factor mRNA expression profiles. Behavioral Brain Research. 286:58-63.
  • Nelson, L., E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2015. Effects of dietary macronutrient composition on exogenous neuropeptide Y’s stimulation of food intake in chicks. Neuroscience Letters. 591:171-5.
  • Zhang, L., Q. Zhu, Y. Liu, E. Gilbert, D. Li, H. Yin, Y. Wang, Z. Yang, Z. Wang, Y. Yuan, and X.L. Zhao. 2015. Polymorphisms in the perlipin gene may affect carcass traits of Chinese meat-type chickens. Asian-Australasian J. Anim. Sci. 28: 763–770.
  • Zhang, W.*, S. Kim, R. Settlage, W. McMahon, L. Sumners*, P. Siegel, B. Dorshorst, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2015. Hypothalamic differences in expression of genes involved in monoamine synthesis and signaling pathways after insulin injection in chickens from lines selected for high and low body weight. Neurogenetics. 16:133-44.
  • Zhang, S.*, E. Wong, and E. Gilbert. 2015. Bioavailability of different dietary supplemental methionine sources in animals. Frontiers in Bioscience. 7:478-90.
  • Zhang, W.*, S. Bai, D. Liu, M. A. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2015. Neuropeptide Y promotes adipogenesis in chicken adipose cells in vitro. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology. 181:62-70.
  • Li, Q., X. Zhao, E. Gilbert, Y. Liu, Y. Wang, M. Qiu, and Q. Zhu. 2015. Confined housing systems increased abdominal and subcutaneous fat deposition and gene expression of carbohydrate response element-binding protein and sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 in chickens. Genetic and Molecular Research. 14: 1220-8.
  • Zou, P., L. Liu, L. Zheng, L. Liu, R. Stoneman, A. Cho, A. Emery, E. Gilbert, and Z. Cheng. 2014. Targeting FoxO1 with AS1842856 suppresses adipogenesis. Cell Cycle. 13:3759-67.
  • McConn, B., G. Wang, J. Yi, E. Gilbert, T. Osugi, T. Ubuka, K. Tsutsui. V. Chowdhury, M. Furuse, and M. Cline. 2014. Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone-stimulation of food intake is mediated by hypothalamic effects in chick. Neuropeptides. 48:327-34.
  • Rice, B.***, W. Zhang*, S. Bai, P. Siegel, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2014. Insulin-induced hypo-glycemia association with gene expression changes in liver and hypothalamus of chickens from lines selected for low or high body weight. General & Comparative Endocrinology. 208:1-4.
  • Wang, Y., H. Xu, E. Gilbert, X. Peng, X. Zhao, Y. Liu, and Q. Zhu. 2014. Detection of SNPs in the TBC1D1 gene and their association with carcass traits in chicken. Gene. 547:288-94.
  • Mace, J., T. Tachibana, G. Wang, B. Newmyer, E. Guilliams, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2014. Substance P is associated with hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus activation that coincides with increased urotensin 2 mRNA in chicks. Neuropeptides. 48:305-11.
  • Zhang, W.*, M. Cline, and E. Gilbert. 2014. Hypothalamus-Adipose Tissue Crosstalk: Neuropeptide Y and the Regulation of Energy Metabolism. Nutrition & Metabolism. 11:27-39.
  • Wang, G., B. Brumfield, M. DiCroce, L. Nelson, B. Newmyer, J. Flower, K. Hipskind, S. Sharma, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2014. Anorexigenic effects of central adrenomedullin are associated with hypothalamic changes in juvenile Gallus gallus. General & Comparative Endocrinology. 204:223-8.
  • Fu, Y., J. Luo, Z. Jia, W. Zhen, K. Zhou, E. Gilbert, and D. Liu. Baicalein prevents type 2 diabetes via promoting islet β-Cell function in obese diabetic mice. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2014:1-13.
  • Li, X., J. Luo, A. Pon Velayutham, W. Zhang*, E. Gilbert, M. Cline, R. McMillan, M. Hulver, H. Alkhalidy, W. Zhen, H. Zhang, and D. Liu. 2014. Dietary supplementation of Chinese ginseng prevents obesity and metabolic syndrome in high-fat diet-fed mice. Journal of Medicinal Food. 17:1287-97.
  • Jiang, L., O. Wallerman, S. Younis, C. Rubin, E. Gilbert, E. Sundstrom, A. Ghazal, X. Zhang, L. Wang, T. Mikkelsen, G. Andersson, and L. Andersson. 2014. ZBED6 modulates the transcription of myogenic genes in mouse myoblast cells. PLoS ONE. 9:e94187.
  • Sumners, L.*, W. Zhang*, X. Zhao, C. Honaker, S. Zhang*, M. Cline, P. Siegel, and E. Gilbert. 2014. Chickens from lines artificially selected for juvenile low and high body weight differ in glucose homeostasis and pancreas physiology. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology. 172:57-65.
  • Zhang, S.*, M. Hulver, R. McMillan, M. Cline and E. Gilbert. 2014. The pivotal role of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases in metabolic flexibility. Nutrition & Metabolism. 11:10-8.
  • Zhang, S.*, R. McMillan, M. Hulver, P. Siegel, L. Sumners*, W. Zhang*, M. Cline and E. Gilbert. 2014. Chickens from lines selected for high and low body weight show differences in fatty acid oxidation efficiency and metabolic flexibility in skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue. International Journal of Obesity. 38:1374-82.
  • Li, J., X. Zhao, E. Gilbert, D. Li, Y. Liu, Y. Wang, Q. Zhu, Y. Wang, Y. Chen, and K. Tian. 2014. APOBEC2 mRNA and protein is predominantly expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscles of chickens. Gene. 539:263-269.
  • Yin, H., K. Tian, D. Li, E. Gilbert, L. Xiao, S. Chen, Y. Wang, Y. Liu, X. Zhao, and Q. Zhu. 2014. Expression profiles of cellular retinol-binding protein, type II (CRBP II) in Erlang Mountainous chickens. Asian-Australasian J. Anim. Sci. 27:310-5.
  • Zhao, X., L. Sumners*, E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, W. Zhang*, and  M. Cline. 2014. Delayed feeding after hatch caused compensatory increases in blood glucose concentrations in fed chicks from low but not high body weight lines. Poult Sci. 93:617-24.
  • Yin, H., S. Zhang*, E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, Q. Zhu, and E. Wong. 2014. Expression profiles of muscle genes in postnatal skeletal muscle in lines of chickens divergently selected for high and low body weight. Poult. Sci. 93:147-54.
  • Zhang, W.*, L. Sumners*, P. Siegel, M. Cline and E. Gilbert. 2013. Appetite-associated factor and glucose transporter mRNA quantities in various tissues after insulin injection in chickens selected for either low or high body weight. Physiological Genomics. 45:1084-94.
  • Zhang, W.*, M. Cline, D. Liu and E. Gilbert. 2013. Knockdown of ZBED6 is not associated with changes in murine preadipocyte proliferation or differentiation. Adipocyte. 2:251-5.
  • Pon Velayutham, A., E. Gilbert and D. Liu. 2013. Recent advances in understanding the signaling pathways involved in the antidiabetic effects of dietary flavonoids. J. Nutr. Biochem. 24:1777-89.
  • Li, J., X. Zhao, Y. Yuan, E. Gilbert, Y. Wang, Y. Liu, Y. Zhang, and Q. Zhu. 2013. Dietary lysine affects chickens from local Chinese pure lines and their reciprocal crosses. Poult. Sci. 92:1683-9.
  • Yin, H., E. Gilbert, S. Chen, D. Li, Z. Zhang, Y. Wang, Y. P. Liu, and Q. Zhu. 2013. Ontogenic expression pattern and genetic polymorphisms of the retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) gene in Erlang mountainous chickens. Gene. 13: 00653-7.
  • Yin, H., E. Gilbert, S. Chen, Y. Wang, Z. Zhang, X. Zhao, Y. Zhang and Q. Zhu. 2013. Effect of hybridization on carcass traits and meat quality of Erlang mountainous chickens. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science. 26: 1504-10.
  • Li, J., Y. Chen, Y. Wang, X. Zhao, E. Gilbert, Y. Liu, Y. Wang, Y. Hu and Q. Zhu. 2013. MUSTN1 mRNA abundance and protein localization is greatest in muscle tissues of Chinese meat-quality chickens. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 14:5545-59.
  • Newmyer, B., W. Nandar, R. Webster, E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, and M. Cline. 2013. Neuropeptide Y is associated with changes in appetite-associated hypothalamic nuclei but not in food intake in a hypophagic avian model. Behavioral Brain Research. 236:327-31.
  • Gilbert, E., and D. Liu. 2013. Anti-diabetic functions of soy isoflavone genistein: mechanisms underlying effects on growth and protection of pancreatic β-cells. Food & Function. 4:200-12.
  • Hagen, C., B. Newmyer, R. Webster, E. Gilbert, P. Siegel, T. Tachibana, and M. Cline. 2013. Stimulation of food intake after central galanin is associated with arcuate nucleus activation and does not differ between genetically selected low and high body weight lines of chickens. Neuropeptides. 47:281-5.
  • Webster, R., B. Newmyer, M. Furuse, E. Gilbert, and M. Cline. 2013. The orexigenic effect of kyotorphin in chicks involves hypothalamus and brainstem activity and opioid receptors. Neuropeptides. 47:193-8.
  • Fu, Z., E. Gilbert, and D. Liu. 2013. Regulation of insulin synthesis and secretion and pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction in diabetes. Curr. Diab. Rev. 9:25-53.
  • Lamichhaney, S., A. Barrio, N. Rafati, G. Sundstrom, C. Rubin, E. Gilbert, J. Berglund, A. Wetterbom, L. Laikre, M. Webster, M. Grabher, N. Ryman, and L. Andersson. 2012. Population-scale sequencing reveals genetic differentiation due to local adaptation in Atlantic herring. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 109:19345-50.
  • Zhao, X., P. Siegel, Y. Liu, Y. Wang, E. Gilbert, Q. Zhu and L. Zhang. 2012. Housing system affects broiler characteristics of local Chinese breed reciprocal crosses. Poult. Sci. 91:2405-10.
  • Gilbert, E., and D. Liu. 2012. Epigenetics: The missing link to understanding β-cell dysfunction in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. Epigenetics. 7: 841-52.
  • Fu, Z., E. Gilbert, L. Pfeiffer, Y. Zhang, Y. Fu, and D. Liu. 2012. Genistein ameliorates hyperglycemia in a mouse model of nongenetic type 2 diabetes. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 37:480-8.
  • Gilbert, E., Z. Fu, and D. Liu. 2011. Development of a nongenetic mouse model of type 2 diabetes. Experimental Diabetes Res. 2011:416254-65.
  • Wu G., P. Siegel, E. Gilbert, N. Yang, and E. Wong. 2011. Expression profiles of somatotropic axis genes in lines of chickens divergently selected for 56-day body weight. Anim. Biotechnol. 2:100-10.
  • Casterlow, S., H. Li, E. Gilbert, R. Dalloul, A. McElroy, D. Emmerson, and E. Wong. 2011. An antimicrobial peptide is downregulated in the small intestine of Eimeria chickens. Poult. Sci. 90:1212-9
  • Gilbert, E., C. Cox, P. Williams, A. McElroy, R. Dalloul, A. Barri, W. Ray, D. Emmerson, E. Wong, and K. Webb, Jr. 2011. Eimeria species and genetic background influence the serum protein profile of broilers with coccidiosis. PLoS ONE. 6:e14636, 1-14.
  • Gilbert, E., P. Williams, W. Ray, H. Li, D. Emmerson, E. Wong, and K. Webb, Jr. 2010. Proteomic evaluation of chicken brush-border membrane during the early post-hatch period. J. Proteome Res. 9: 4628-39.
  • Gilbert, E., H. Li, D. Emmerson, K. Webb, Jr. and E. A. Wong. 2010. Dietary protein composition influences abundance of peptide and amino acid transporter mRNA in the small intestine of broiler chicks. Poult. Sci. 89:1663-76.
  • Gilbert, E. and D. Liu. 2010. Flavonoids influence epigenetic-modifying enzyme activity: structure-function relationships and the therapeutic potential for cancer. Curr. Med. Chem. 17:1756-68.
  • Gilbert, E., E. Wong, and K. Webb, Jr. 2008. Peptide absorption and utilization: implications for animal nutrition and health. Board Invited Review. J. Anim. Sci. 86:2135-55.
  • Zhao, J., A. Harper, K. Webb, L. Kuehn, E. Gilbert, X. Xiao, and E. Wong. 2008. Cytokine mRNA expression in the small intestine of weanling pigs fed diets supplemented with specialized protein or peptide sources. Asian-Australasian J. Anim. Sci. 21:1800-06.
  • Gilbert, E., H. Li, D. Emmerson, K. Webb, Jr. and E. Wong. 2008. Dietary protein quality and feed restriction influence abundance of nutrient transporter mRNA in the small intestine of broiler chicks. J. Nutr. 138:1-10.
  • Li, H., E. Gilbert, Y. Zhang, O. Crasta, D. Emmerson, K. Webb Jr., and E. Wong. 2008. Expression profiling of the solute carrier gene family in the chicken intestine from the late embryonic to early post hatch stages. Anim. Genetics. 39:407-24.
  • Gilbert, E., H. Li, D. Emmerson, K. Webb, Jr. and E. Wong. 2007. Developmental regulation of nutrient transporter and enzyme mRNA abundance in the small intestine of broilers. Poult Sci. 86:1739-53.
  • Gilbert, E. , E. Wong, M. Vaughan, and K. Webb, Jr. 2007. Distribution and abundance of nutrient transporter mRNA in the intestinal tract of the black bear, Ursus americanus. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B Biochem. Mol. Biol.146:35-41.
  • (540) 231-4750
  • egilbert@vt.edu
  • 3620 Litton-Reaves
    Animal & Poultry Sciences Department
    Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306
    USA