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Anthony Sclafani
Position: Emeritus Distinguished Professor
Campus Affiliation: Brooklyn College
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. in Biopsychology, University of Chicago
B.S. in Psychology, Brooklyn College
Training Area: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
Research Interests: Neurobiology of appetite, food preferences and obesity, carbohydrate and fat taste receptors in mouth, nutrient sensors in gut, learned food preferences
Research Focus: Neuroscience

Anthony Sclafani was a psychology major at Brooklyn College of CUNY and did his graduate work in Biopsychology at the University of Chicago. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Psychology at Brooklyn College in 1970 and retired as a Distinguished Professor in 2016. He continues his research with collaborators at Queens College of CUNY, Barnard College of Columbia University, and the Monell Chemical Senses Center. 

In early studies, Sclafani discovered that overeating and obesity can be induced in otherwise normal laboratory rats by feeding them an assortment of palatable high-sugar, high-fat foods marketed to humans. Research in the Sclafani lab then focused on the role of sweet taste in driving food consumption. This lead to the unexpected finding that rodents have multiple carbohydrate taste receptors that stimulate their appetite for starch and starch-derived polysaccharides as well as for sugars. Subsequent studies revealed that rodents also have fat taste receptors which became an active area of research in the Sclafani lab.

Carbohydrate and fat are not only tasted in the mouth but are also “sensed” in the gut. For over 30 years Sclafani and students and collaborators investigated how nutrient sensing in the gut can stimulate food intake and condition food preferences through a process referred to as “appetition.” This work revealed that the glucose sensor/transporter  SGLT1 and fatty acid sensors GPR40 and GPR120 are critical in post-oral carbohydrate and fat appetite stimulation. Sclafani is the author or co-author of over 300 scientific reports and reviews.

Awards and Grants

  • Distinguished Career Award, 2017, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
  • Hoebel Prize in Creativity, 2011, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
  • NIH Merit Award, 2001 - 2011, National Institute of Health

Professional Affiliations and Memberships

  • Editorial Advisory Boards
    • Appetite, 1991 - present, Physiology and Behavior, 1989 - present
  • Association for Chemoreception Sciences
  • Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
    • President (1992-1993)

Recent Publications

  • Sclafani, A. & Ackroff, K. Formation of flavor aversions and preferences. In Fritzsch,B. & Meyerhof, W. (Eds), The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference, Second Edition, Elsevier, 2020, 333-352.
  • Glendinning, J. I., Maleh, J., Ortiz, G., Touzani, K. & Sclafani, A. Olfaction mediate the learned avidity for glucose relative to fructose in brief-access lick tests.  American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2020, 318, R901-R916.
  • Sclafani, A., Zukerman, S. & Ackroff, K. Residual glucose taste in T1R3 knockout but not TRPM5 knockout mice.  Physiology and Behavior, 2020, 222, 112945.
  • Sclafani, A. & Ackroff, K. Capsaicin-induced visceral deafferentation does not attenuate flavor conditioning by intragastric fat infusions in mice. Physiology and Behavior, 2019, 208, 112586
  • Sclafani, A. & Ackroff, K.  Fat preference in mice: lipolysis is critical for postoral but not oral fat preferences.  American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2018, 314, R434-R441.
  • Sclafani, A. & Ackroff, K Greater reductions in fat preferences in CALHM1 than CD36 knockout mice.  American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 2018, 315, R576-R585.
  • Sclafani, A., Vural, A. S. & Ackroff, K. Profound differences in fat versus carbohydrate preferences in CAST/EiJ and C57BL/6J mice: Role of fat taste.  Physiology and Behavior, 2018, 194, 348-355.
  • Sclafani, A. From appetite setpoint to appetition: 50 years of ingestive behavior research.  Physiology and Behavior, 2018, 192, 210-217.

Photo Credit: Jurgen Frank