Scott Sternson wants to know how the needs of the body set the ‘ground rules’ for our behavior. Sternson’s team is particularly interested in how the brain controls appetite. They have developed new tools for integrating molecular and systems neuroscience, using them to systematically elucidate cellular and systems-level mechanisms by which the brain monitors basic physiological needs and orchestrates hunger, thirst, and other complex motivated behaviors important for survival. Their goal is to use detailed molecular and neural circuit models of appetite to develop mechanisms-based treatment strategies for obesity. In addition, they are developing chemogenetics as a potential drug-controlled gene therapy approach to neural circuit disorders.