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February 2011 Issue

Randall Sakai, PhD
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Focus on Science: Randall Sakai, PhD

Published February 2011

Randall Sakai, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry and neuroendocrinology expert. He received his bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Washington in 1982 and his PhD in biology in 1988 from the University of Pennsylvania. Sakai completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University and, after several years on faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, joined UC’s faculty in 1999. He leads a lab at UC’s Reading Campus and is editor-in-chief of the journal Physiology & Behavior. In 2010, Sakai and his team published data on the role of everyday stressors in the development of obesity.

When did you come to UC and what brought you here?
"I came to UC in August of 1999 from the University of Pennsylvania. One of the main attractions to coming here was the ability to work with friends and colleagues that I had known for at least 10 years previously who were at different universities around the states but were all moving to UC.”

Share a bit about your current research focus.
"My research area is neuroendocrinology. That is, how hormones affect the brain, behavior and physiological function. Currently, the lab focuses on how stress can have long-term effects on metabolism and affective disorders. These stressors can occur prenatally or postnatally and still have profound effects in adulthood. I am fortunate to have members in the lab that are passionate in their studies and keep the science moving.”

What implications might your research have on patient care?
"The lab has developed neuroethological models of stress that are consonant with stressors that are clinically relevant. These models extend a whole constellation—from the perturbations of associated with assisted reproduction to psychosocial stress as adults and its effects on affective disorders and metabolism. I am fortunate to have students and colleagues who are equally passionate about these studies to work with.”

Tell us a bit about yourself. Do you have any hobbies? Is there something interesting about you that your colleagues may not know?
"I enjoy living in Cincinnati and am proud to call it my home. However, to settle down in the Midwest is one of the last places on my list. I grew up in Hawaii and went to college on the West Coast and got my PhD and did my postdoc on the East Coast. I guess I never knew where I would end up. I am proud of the students and fellows who have worked with me. They are my friends and colleagues and I enjoy seeing them succeed in life.”

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