If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

My laboratory is interested in the neurological and endocrine systems that govern energy balance (food intake, metabolism, body weight and body composition). We have a particular interest in the role played by the circadian clock in strengthening homeostatic controls, and how clock disruption may contribute to the development and severity of metabolic disease (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease).

Feeding behaviour (i.e., what, when, and how much we eat) is a complex process incorporating instinctual and homeostatic drives (which ensure adequate energy supply) and hedonistic and reward pathways (which reinforce pleasurable aspects of food intake), as well as higher cognitive mechanisms (which provide contextual and learned information). Nonetheless, for most people, body weight and body composition remain relatively static throughout adult life. This is because regulatory centres within the brain are generally very good at balancing food intake with energy need and/or expenditure.  In its simplest form, this regulatory (homeostatic) control is dictated by the relative activity of orexigenic (promoting food intake) and anorexigenic (inhibiting food intake) neurons within an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. These cells respond to fluctuations in circulating nutrient (e.g., glucose, fatty acids, amino acids) and hormone (e.g., leptin, ghrelin, insulin) levels that reflect our energy status or needs, to elicit the appropriate responses (i.e. appetite, hunger, satiety). Unfortunately, in some circumstances homeostatic controls become profoundly overwhelmed resulting in chronic disruption of energy balance (e.g. obesity) and potentially severe eating and metabolic disorders (e.g. anorexia nervosa and cachexia).

Much of our physiology and behaviour is patterned across the 24hr day. Coordination of these patterns (circadian rhythms) is driven by an internal biological clock system that runs within the brain, as well as most tissues of the body. It is now clear that the circadian clock is also critical in our ability to maintain a normal energy balance. By modulating the activity of feeding centres in the hypothalamus, modulating reward pathways, and gating the production and release of energy-related signals and hormones, all influenced by time of day, the circadian clock has a profound influence over feeding behaviour and metabolism. It is also becoming clear that disruption of our bodies’ natural rhythms increases the incidence and severity of neurological and metabolic diseases.

Our research examines how and where the circadian system intersects with metabolic and feeding controls to exert this influence.  For example, recent work within the lab has identified components of the molecular clock, which act as a critical modifier of food intake, influencing not only the timing of feeding but also amount and diet preference. It is our hope that such studies will identify novel avenues for therapeutic intervention for a range of neurological, metabolic and eating disorders. Our research is founded on an integrative approach, which spans from molecular biology to whole animal physiology. We employ innovative models and techniques including novel transgenics, comprehensive physiological monitoring and in vivo imaging to explore circadian and metabolic function.



Lecture courses:

Clocks, Sleep, and the rhythms of life (BIOL31681)

Hormones and Behaviour (BIOL31721) - Unit Coordinator

Research Skills Modules:

Neuroscience RSM (BIOL20922)

Other Activities:

Neuroscience tutorials and Dissertation supervision (BIOL10000, BIOL20000, BIOL22020, BIOL21092)

3rd Year Research Project supervision (BIOL30030)

Masters Research Supervision (BIOL40010)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute


  • Circadian Biology
  • Metabolism
  • Obesity
  • Neuroscience
  • Biological timing
  • Diabetes
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics where David Bechtold is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or