Gregory Morton, PhD


  • Director, Diabetes and Metabolism Research Program, UW Medicine Diabetes Institute
  • Director, UW Medicine Diabetes Institute Energy Balance Core
  • Co-Director, NIDDK-UW Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Training Grant
  • Research Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition

Complete list of published work.

Greg Morton received his PhD at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia in 2000 and subsequently completed his post-doctoral fellowship training in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Schwartz within the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition at the University of Washington, Seattle. He was appointed to the faculty in 2005 and is currently a Research Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington.  He serves as Director of the Diabetes and Metabolism Research Program and Director of the Energy Balance Core of the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute and is also co-Director of the NIDDK-funded Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Training Grant.

Research Interests

Dr. Morton’s research focuses on studying the role of the brain in the regulation of energy balance and glucose metabolism and how defects in this control system contribute to the development of obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

A major focus of Dr. Morton’s research program is to determine the role of the brain in the regulation of energy balance and glucose metabolism.  The overarching hypothesis is that the central nervous system (CNS) senses and receives afferent input from hormonal and nutrient-related signals that convey information regarding both short-term and long-term energy availability and energy stores.  In response to this input, the brain engages neuroendocrine, autonomic and behavioral responses that regulate energy intake, energy expenditure, glucose production and glucose uptake in order to maintain energy homeostasis and glycemic control.  Our current research identifies the CNS mechanisms and neurocircuits that mediate these responses, and how they communicate this to peripheral tissues.  To accomplish this, we utilize state-of-the-art neuroscience approaches, including both “optogenetics and DREADD” methodologies to selectively activate and inhibit specific neuronal populations in combination with genetic, molecular and immunohistochemical techniques and comprehensive energy balance and glucose-metabolic phenotyping.

This research work has been continuously funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), along with current, or previous funding sources from the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Novo Nordisk A/S and the Royalty Research Fund at the University of Washington.

How can this research help people with diabetes?

The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is among the most common and costly biomedical challenges confronting modern society.  Currently, most research and treatment options for diabetes focuses on either increasing insulin secretion and/or insulin action.  By gaining a better understanding and identifying the mechanisms whereby the brain regulates blood glucose levels, the brain has untapped potential to be a novel target for the treatment of diabetes.