FSU Biology - Directories - Faculty

Biological Science Faculty Member

Dr. Elizabeth Brown

Dr. Elizabeth  Brown

Assistant Professor
PhD University of Cincinnati, 2017

Graduate Faculty Status

Research and Professional Interests:

Our lab uses the fruit fly Drosophila to uncover the mechanisms that regulate behavior.


Most animals, including humans, need to sleep and eat. Being able to do so is critical for survival. What are the genetic and neural mechanisms that regulate these behaviors and how do they change with age? Our lab investigates these questions using the fruit fly, Drosophila, where genes are easy to manipulate. We use multiple approaches, including genetic screening, behavioral analysis, genomics, and brain imaging techniques in this accessible model system with the goal of uncovering fundamental principles that regulate behavior.


Current Research Areas

Dietary regulation of sleep depth

The type of foods we eat affect how well we sleep. In the fly, we have shown that the composition of macronutrients in food affects sleep duration, sleep depth, and metabolic rate. We are investigating how this occurs and whether there are consequences to insufficient deep sleep.

Mechanisms of fatty acid taste

Taste preference for fat and sugar is linked to obesity in mammals, therefore how these taste modalities are  encoded and modified by experience is critical to our understanding of metabolic disorders. We have shown that flies sense fatty acids through the same neurons that detect sugars. We are investigating how they are able to discriminate between these different taste modalities.

Disruption of sleep and feeding during aging and neurodegenerative disease

Deficits in both sleep and chemosensory processing (e.g. smell and taste) are associated with normal aging, as well as several neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Although significant advances have been made in investigating the genetic regulation of sleep and feeding behaviors in flies, much less is known about how they are impacted by aging. We are investigating how these behaviors are modified by aging and in a fly model of AD.

Techniques we use in the lab:

  • Genetics
  • Behavioral assays
  • Physiology & metabolism measurements
  • Immunohistochemistry & confocal microscopy
  • Live imaging
  • Molecular biology
  • Genomics approaches

Selected Publications:

  1. Palermo J, Zimmerman A, Chesi A, Sonti S, Lasconi C, Brown EB, Pippin J, Wells A, Doldur-Balli F, Mazzotti D, Pack A, Gherman P, Grant S, Keene AC (2023) Variant-to-gene mapping followed by cross-species genetic screening identifies GPI-anchor biosynthesis as a novel regulator of sleep. Sci Adv. 9(1):abq0844
  2. Brown EB, Klok J, Keene AC (2022) Measuring metabolic rate in single flies during sleep and waking states. J.Neurosci. Methods. 376:109606.
  3. Brown EB, Shah KD, Palermo J, Dey M, Dahanukar A, Keene AC. (2021) IR56d-dependent fatty acid responses in Drosophila uncover taste discrimination between different classes of fatty acids. eLife. 10:e67878.
  4. Botero V, Stahl BA, Brown EB, Grenci EC, Boto T, Park SJ, King LB, Murphy KR, Colodner KJ, Walker JA, Keene AC, Ja WW, Tomchik SM (2021) Neurofibromin regulates metabolic rate via neuronal mechanisms in Drosophila. Nat. Commun. 12:4285.
  5. Collie J, Granela O, Brown EB*, Keene AC (2020) Aggression is induced by resource limitation in the monarch caterpillar. iScience. 23(12): 101791.
  6. Brown EB, Shah KD, Faville R, Kottler B, Keene AC (2020) Drosophila insulin-like peptide 2 mediates dietary regulation of sleep intensity. PLoS Genet. 16(3): e1008270.
  7. Stanhope BA, Jaggard JB, Gratton M, Brown EB, Keene AC (2020) Sleep regulates glial plasticity and expression of the engulfment receptor Draper following neural injury. Curr Biol. 30(6):1092-1101.
  8. Pamboro ELS, Brown EB*, Keene AC (2020) Dietary fatty acids promote sleep through a taste-independent mechanism. Genes Brain Behav. 19(4):e12629.
  9. Brown EB, Torres J, Bennick RA, Rozzo V, Kerbs A, DiAngelo JR, Keene AC (2018) Variation in sleep and metabolic function is associated with latitude and average temperature in Drosophila melanogaster. Ecol. Evol. 8: 4084-4097.
  10. Tauber JM, Brown EB, Li Y, Yurgel ME, Masek P, Keene AC (2017) A subset of sweet-sensing neurons identified by IR56d are necessary and sufficient for fatty acid taste. PLoS Genet. 13(11): e1007059.

Click here for complete list of published work.