Claudio Perez-Leighton

Ph.D. 2012

Thesis Title:

Role of the orexin peptides in individual sensitivity to diet-induced obesity

Current Position:

Assisant Professor, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago

Former Position(s):

Assistant Professor, Universidad Andres Bello in Chile

Assistant Adjunct Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition,
University of Minnesota

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

Universidad catolica de Chile - Biochemistry, 2006

Major Advisor(s):

Catherine Kotz, Ph.D.

Research Description:

I am interested in the link between neural function and behavior. My current research focus in the role of the receptors for the orexin peptides in the development of obesity.

Lab Rotations:

  • Harry Orr
  • Mark Thomas
  • Paul Mermelstein

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • STAT 5303 - Design and Analysis of Experiments
  • CSCI 5481 - Computational Techniques in Genomics
  • PUBH 6450 - Biostatistics I

Graduate Level Minor:

  • Bioinformatics

Committee Members:

  • Catherine Kotz - Advisor
  • William Engeland - Chair
  • Charles Billington
  • Esam El-Fakahany


  • Perez-Leighton C, Little MR, Grace M, Billington C, Kotz CM. 2017. Orexin signaling in rostral lateral hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens shell in the control of spontaneous physical activity in high- and low-activity rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 312(3):R338-R346.
  • Teske JA, Perez-Leighton CE, Noble EE, Wang C, Billington CJ, Kotz CM.  Effect of housing types on growth, feeding, physical activity, and anxiety-like behavior in male Sprague-Dawley rats.  Front Nutr. 2016 Feb 4;3:4.
  • Mavanji V, Perez-Leighton CE, Kotz CM, Billington CJ, Parthasarathy S, Sinton CM, Teske JA.  Promotion of wakefulness and energy expenditure by orexin-A in the ventrolateral preoptic area.  Sleep. 2015;38(9):1361-70.
  • Zink AN, Perez-Leighton CE, Kotz CM.  The orexin neuropeptide system: physical activity and hypothalamic function throughout the aging process.  Front Syst Neurosci. 2014 Nov 4;8:211.
  • Perez-Leighton CE, Grace M, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Role of spontaneous physical activity in prediction of susceptibility to activity based anorexia in male and female rats. Physiol Behav. 2014;135:104-11.
  • Teske JA, Perez-Leighton CE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Methodological considerations for measuring spontaneous physical activity in rodents. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014;306(10):R714-21. 
  • Teske JA, Perez-Leighton CE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Role of the locus coeruleus in enhanced orexin A-induced spontaneous physical activity in obesity-resistant rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013;305(11):R1337-45.
  • Perez-Leighton CE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Orexin modulation of adipose tissue. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014;1842(3):440-5.
  • Perez-Leighton CE, Boland K, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. High and low activity rats: elevated intrinsic physical activity drives resistance to diet-induced obesity in non-bred rats. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013;21(2):353-60.
  • Perez-Leighton CE, Butterick-Peterson TA, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Role of orexin receptors in obesity: from cellular to behavioral evidence. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(2):167-74.
  • Perez-Leighton CE, Boland K, Teske JA, Billington C, Kotz CM. Behavioral responses to orexin, orexin receptor gene expression and intrinsic physical activity contribute to individual sensitivity to obesity. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012;303(7):E865-74.
  • Kotz C, Nixon J, Butterick T, Perez-Leighton C, Teske J, Billington C. Brain orexin promotes obesity resistance. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012;1264(1):72-86.
  • Perez-Leighton CE, Schmidt TM, Abramowitz J, Birnbaumer L, Kofuji P. Intrinsic phototransduction persists in melanopsin-expressing ganglion cells lacking diacylglycerol-sensitive TRPC subunits. Eur J Neurosci. 2011;33(5):856-67.
  • Tang X, Schmidt TM, Perez-Leighton CE, Kofuji P. Inwardly rectifying potassium channel Kir4.1 is responsible for the native inward potassium conductance of satellite glial cells in sensory ganglia. Neuroscience. 2010;166(2):397-407
  • Blanco E, Rojas R, Haeger P, Cuevas R, Perez C, Munita R, Quiroz G, Andrés ME, Forray MI, Gysling K. Intron retention as an alternative splice variant of the rat urocortin 1 gene. Neuroscience. 2006;140(4):1245-52.

Conferences Attended and Presentations:

  • Society For Neuroscience - 2006, 2009

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience

Awards and Honors:

  • Fulbright-Conicyt Scholarship for Graduate Studies 2006

Home Town:

  • Santiago - Chile
Claudio Perez-Leighton