Faculty Profile

John Douglass

Assistant Professor of Biology

Email: jdouglass@spu.edu
Phone: (206) 286-7355
Office: Eaton 135

Education: BS, Grove City College, 2003; PhD, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, 2014. At SPU since 2018.

John Douglass started his career in science as a 12-year-old loading thousands of pipette tips into boxes at the University of Utah. Since then, he graduated as a biochemistry major from Grove City College and subsequently worked as a research associate in an X-ray crystallography lab. As a graduate student at Rutgers University, John became interested in metabolism and pursued projects with Dr. Judith Storch that assessed the role of fat-converting enzymes in the development of obesity. In 2014, he joined Dr. Joshua Thaler’s group at the University of Washington as a postdoctoral fellow to research how inflammation in the central nervous system impacts body weight and blood sugar.

His current research seeks to establish a better understanding of the brain in metabolic health and disease. In particular, Dr. Douglass is focused on the identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that link the consumption of fattening diets to the accumulation of body fat and the eventual development of type 2 diabetes. This research uses both animal and cellular models, along with a range of biochemical analyses and advanced neuroscience techniques. The ultimate goal of these projects is to aid the development of more effective treatments for obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Douglass teaches classes in the biology and chemistry departments at SPU, including human physiology, cell biology, bioethics, and general chemistry courses, as well as science-focused disciplinary research and writing courses.

Selected Publications

  • Douglass JD, Ness KM, Valdearcos M, Wyse-Jackson A, Dorfman MD, Frey JM, Fasnacht RD, Santiago OD, Niraula A, Banerjee J, Robblee M, Koliwad SK, Thaler JP. Obesity-associated microglial inflammatory activation paradoxically improves glucose tolerance. Cell Metabolism (2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2023.07.008.
  • Banerjee J, Dorfman MD, Fasnacht, R, Douglass, JD, Wyse-Jackson, AC, Barria, A and Thaler JP. CX3CL1 Action on Microglia Protects from Diet-Induced Obesity by Restoring POMC Neuronal Excitability and Melanocortin System Activity Impaired by High-Fat Diet Feeding. Int. J. Mol. Sci. (2022). 23(12): 6380. Article link.
  • Valdearcos M*, Douglass JD*, Robblee MM, Dorfman MD, Stifler DR, Bennet ML, Gerritse I, Fasnacht R, Barres BA, Thaler JP, Koliwad SK. Microglial inflammatory signaling orchestrates the hypothalamic immune response to dietary excess and mediates obesity susceptibility. Cell Metabolism (2017). 26(1): 185-197. *Co-first authors. Article link.
  • Douglass JD, Dorfman MD, Fasnacht RD, Shaffer LD, Thaler JP. Astrocyte IKKβ/NF-κB signaling is required for diet-induced obesity and hypothalamic inflammation. Molecular Metabolism (2017). Article link.
  • Dorfman MD, Krull JE, Douglass JD, Fasnacht R, Lara-Lince F, Meek TH, Shi X, Damian V, Nguyen HT, Matsen ME, Morton GJ, Thaler JP. Sex differences in microglial CX3CR1 signaling determine obesity susceptibility in mice. Nature Communications (2017). Article link.
  • Douglass JD, Dorfman MD, Thaler JP. Glia: silent partners in energy homeostasis and obesity pathogenesis. Diabetologia (2017). Article link.
  • Douglass JD, Zhou YX, Wu A, Zadroga JA, Gajda AM, Lackey AI, Lang W, Chevalier KM, Sutton SW, Zhang SP, Flores CM, Connelly MA, Storch J. Global deletion of monoacylglycerol lipase in mice delays lipid absorption and alters energy homeostasis and diet-induced obesity. Journal of Lipid Research (2015). Article link.
  • Maestre R, Douglass JD, Kodukula S, Medina I, Storch J. Alterations in the intestinal assimilation of oxidized PUFAs are ameliorated by a polyphenol-rich grape seed extract in an in vitro model and CACO-2 Cells. Journal of Nutrition (2013). Article link.
  • Chon SH, Douglass JD, Zhou YX, Malik N, Dixon JL, Brinker A, Quadro L, Storch J. Over-expression of monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) in small intestine alters endocannabinoid levels and whole body energy balance, resulting in obesity. PLoS ONE (2012). Article link.
  • Douglass JD, Malik N, Chon SH, Wells K, Zhou YX, Choi AS, Joseph LB, Storch J. Intestinal mucosal triacylglycerol accumulation secondary to decreased lipid secretion in obese and high fat fed mice. Frontiers in Physiology (2012). Article link.

Please see Dr. Douglass's CV (PDF) for additional publications.

John Douglass, Assistant Professor of Biology

Why I Teach at SPU

John Douglass, Assistant Professor of Biology

“I love the direct interaction with students. With the small class sizes, we have the ability to address questions and dive into topics as they arise. This makes for lively discussions and helps students explore the exquisite complexity of the natural world. Furthermore, the excellent faculty and top-notch facilities at SPU make it easy to involve our students in meaningful research projects that equip them with both the technical skills and the scientific mindset to tackle their future challenges.”