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Samson Elected President of Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviors


Saint Louis University professor Willis K. “Rick” Samson Ph.D., D.Sc., has been elected  as the 33rd president of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviors (SSIB).

Willis "Rick" Samson, Ph.D., D.Sc.

SSIB is the world’s largest professional organization focused upon the social, environmental, biological and pathological aspects of ingestive behaviors.

Samson, a SLU researcher, professor of pharmacology and physiology and director of biomedical science graduate programs in the School of Medicine, is an internationally known expert on the hypothalamic control of metabolism, cardiovascular function and appetitive behaviors.

SSIB is a non-profit organization committed to advancing scientific research on food and fluid intake and its associated biological, psychological and social processes. The society provides a multidisciplinary environment for the free exchange of ideas and information, and serves as a resource for scientific expertise and education on topics related to the study of ingestive behavior.

Internationally Known Research, Novel Discoveries

Samson’s research focus is on the roles that vasoactive peptides play in the coordinated regulation of cardiovascular homeostasis. Cardiovascular homeostasis (health) is maintained by hormonal and neuronal mechanisms all integrated to assure adequate cardiac function. His research’s long term goals are to understand the relevance of these peptides’ actions in the brain, and to establish their potential use in clinical settings.

“Our work has focused on how neuropeptides coordinate multiple organ systems to regulate metabolism, reproduction and cardiovascular function,” Samson said. Since moving to SLU in 1999, Samson’s research group has discovered two novel hormones and identified the receptors that transmit their physiologic actions.

“In particular these studies have been accelerated by the outstanding and insightful work of my colleague, Dr. Gina Yosten, a SLU graduate and current assistant professor here at SLU,” Samson explained “Together with Dr. Yosten we now are working to develop novel strategies and therapeutics for the treatment of eating disorders and the prevention of potentially fatal hypoglycemic episodes experienced by insulin-dependent diabetics.”

He has published widely on his work in such prestigious peer-reviewed journals as the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the American Journal of Physiology. He has received several RO1 awards from the National Institutes of Health and grants from private foundations for his work on the central control of blood pressure, ingestive behaviors and reproductive hormone secretion. He was honored in 2012 with the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Teacher Award. Dr. Samson has served as the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology since 2013.

Samson will begin his term as president-elect at the 2019 SSIB meeting in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and be installed as president in 2020 at the society’s meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.