Our Research: Faculty/Research Laboratories

Mauricio Dorfman, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition

Email Address: dorfmanm@uw.edu

Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition Website:  http://depts.washington.edu/metab/



Dr. Dorfman obtained a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from University of Chile in 2001 and 2008, respectively. His early work in Dr. Hernan Lara’s laboratory focused on investigating the role of ovarian sympathetic nerve activity in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome. He further pursued the study of ovarian pathophysiology as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Sergio Ojeda’s laboratory at the Oregon National Primate Research Center/ Oregon Health and Science University. Following his interest in the field of obesity and diabetes, Dr. Dorfman moved to Seattle in 2012 to complete his postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Drs. Michael W. Schwartz and Joshua P. Thaler at the University of Washington. He was appointed as a Research Assistant Professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition in 2016, where he is combining expertise obtained during both his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training to investigate novel research questions at the intersection of reproductive and metabolic science.


Recent work in the field of obesity and diabetes supports the concept that the brain plays an important role in regulating energy homeostasis and glucose control. Based on these early observations, first as a postdoctoral trainee with Dr. Michael W. Schwartz and Dr. Joshua P. Thaler as mentors and now as a Research Assistant Professor working closely with Dr. Thaler, Dr. Dorfman have focused on the role of hypothalamic cells (neurons, astrocytes and microglial cells), in the regulation of energy balance and glucose homeostasis. Dr. Dorfman has special interest in the identification of metabolically-relevant sexual dimorphisms in non-neuronal and neuronal cells to improve the management of gender-specific metabolic disease risk factors.

Representative Publications:

Dorfman MD, Kerr B, Garcia-Rudaz C, Paredes AH, Dissen GA, Ojeda SR. Neurotrophins acting via TRKB receptors activate the JAGGED1-NOTCH2 cell-cell communication pathway to facilitate early ovarian development. Endocrinology 2011;152(12). PMCID: PMC3230062

Dorfman MD, Garcia-Rudaz C, Alderman Z, Kerr B, Lomniczi A, Dissen GA, Castellano JM, Garcia-Galiano D, Gaytan F, Xu B, Tena-Sempere M, Ojeda SR. Loss of NTRK2/KISS1R signaling in oocytes causes premature Ovarian failure. Endocrinology 2014;155(8). PMCID: PMC4097998

Dorfman MD, Thaler JP. Hypothalamic inflammation and gliosis in obesity. Curr. Opin. Endocrinol. Diabetes Obes. 2015;22(5):325–330.

Scarlett JM, Rojas JM, Matsen ME, Kaiyala KJ, Stefanovski D, Bergman RN, Nguyen HT, Dorfman MD, Lantier L, Wasserman DH, Mirzadeh Z, Unterman TG, Morton GJ, Schwartz MW. Central injection of fibroblast growth factor 1 induces sustained remission of diabetic hyperglycemia in rodents. Nat. Med. 2016;22(7). PMCID: PMC4938755

Dorfman MD, Krull JE, Scarlett JM, Guyenet SJ, Sajan MP, Damian V, Nguyen HT, Leitges M, Morton GJ, Farese R V., Schwartz MW, Thaler JP. Deletion of Protein Kinase C λ in POMC Neurons Predisposes to Diet-Induced Obesity. Diabetes 2017;66(4):920–934.

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 signalling determine obesity susceptibility in mice. Nat. Commun. 2017;8:14556. PMCID: PMC5322503

Current Collaborations:

Within the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute and its Affiliated Members:

Joshua Thaler, MD, PhD
Michael Schwartz, MD
Brent Wisse, MD
Gregory Morton, PhD

Lab Members:

Rachael Fasnacht, Research Scientist
Lee Shaffer, Research Scientist Assistant