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Jessica Osterhout




Assistant Professor of Neurobiology

Brain and Behavior

Lab Website: The Osterhout Lab



B.S. 2010, University of Oregon; Ph.D. 2015, University of Califormia, San Diego; Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-2022, Harvard University


The molecular, cellularand circuit mechanisms driving sickness symptoms and behaviors. 

During an infection, animals exhibit a highly stereotyped set of sickness symptoms including fever, fatigue, body aches, changes to appetite, thirst and more. The brain controls changes in physiology and behavior, including those exhibited during infection, however very little is understood about how the brain senses a whole-body immune response and orchestrates the appropriate sickness symptoms.

The goal of the Osterhout lab is to understand how the brain senses an immune response and modulates specific cell types and neural circuits to make us feel sick. We use cutting-edge behavioral analyses to examine a range of symptoms exhibited during acute infection, chronic inflammation and other immune-activated states. We also take advantage of the latest single-cell approaches for analyzing the transcriptome and spatial organization of cells in the brain to better understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying immune-brain communication. Finallywe utilize genetic and viral tools to better understand the role of specific cells and circuits in the generation of sickness behaviors.

By combining these approaches, we can address important questions: 1) how does the brain sense the immune response? 2) how are different sickness symptoms generated in response?


We seek to establish anexciting and successful working environment in my lab. I firmly believe this is not possible without a diverse group of scientists who are willing to work together as collaborators, mentors, and hopefully friends, to one another. Students who will do well in my lab are scientifically curious, possess time-management and organizational skills, and are able to communicate effectively and respectfully with myself and fellow lab mates.

My Bibliography


Last Updated: 2/28/24