Ruth Harris

Regents' Professor

Ruth Harris

Regents' Professor


Academic Appointment(s)

Medical College of Georgia
Department of Physiology

The Graduate School


  • Ph.D., Physiology, General University of Leeds, 1981

  • BS, Food Science University of Leeds, 1977

Awards & Honors

  • Outstanding Faculty Member Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, 2021

  • Distinguished Research Award Augusta University Research Institute, 2017

  • Distinguished Faculty Award for Basic Science Teaching Faculty Senate of the Medical College of Georgia, 2012

  • Outstanding Journal Research Article The Obesity Society, 2012

Courses Taught Most Recent Academic Year

  • MEDI 6300

    Career Paths in Med
  • BIOM 8011

    Respon Conduct of Research
  • BIOM 8033

    Integrated Systems Biol
  • BIOM 8012

    Scientific Communications


Selected Recent Publications

  • Loss of leptin receptor-expressing cells in the hindbrain decreases forebrain leptin sensitivity., 2020
    Journal Article, Academic Journal
  • Chronic exposure to liquid sucrose and dry sucrose diet have differential effects on peripheral taste responses in female rats., 2019
    Journal Article, Academic Journal
  • Leptin receptor-expressing neurons in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus contribute to weight loss caused by fourth ventricle leptin infusions., 2019
    Journal Article, Academic Journal
  • Low-dose infusions of leptin into the nucleus of the solitary tract increase sensitivity to third ventricle leptin., 2019
    Journal Article, Academic Journal
  • Development of leptin resistance in sucrose drinking rats is associated with consuming carbohydrate-containing solutions and not calorie-free sweet solution., 2019
    Journal Article, Academic Journal

Research Interests

The first of our current projects investigates how leptin activity in the hindbrain integrates with that in the forebrain to influence energy balance and body composition using rat models. Very low, threshold doses of leptin demonstrate that responsive areas in both the forebrain and hindbrain have to be activated simultaneously in order for exogenous leptin to inhibit food intake and cause weight loss. Exogenous leptin replicates the conditions that would be present when body fat starts to increase in response to excess energy intake. A number of hypothalamic nuclei respond to leptin, but the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus appears to be essential in the integrated response to leptin that exerts a corrective action in conditions of positive energy balance. The second project focuses on the rapid development of leptin resistance in rats offered sucrose solution to drink. It appears that the repeated consumption of sucrose activates the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway which adds O-GlcNAc residues to a multitude of proteins and modifies their bioactivity. We are using in vivo and in vitro studies to determine whether leptin signaling proteins are modified by this pathway and whether it accounts for the development of leptin resistance, which potentially increases the risk for obesity.

Department Service

  • Department of Physiology Associate 2012 - Present

    Role: Committee Chair
  • Department of Physiology Search Committee 2010 - Present

    Role: Committee Chair

University Service

  • COGS 8033: Integrated Systems Biology 2011 - Present

    Role: Other
  • IACUC 2011 - Present

    Role: Committee Member
  • Interim Chair Department of Physiology 2018 - 2019

  • Augusta University Research Institute Award Selection Committee 2018

  • Member MCG Basic Science Faculty Salary Committee 2017 - 2018

    Role: Committee Member

Professional Service

  • Editorial Board: Physiology and Behavior 2018 - Present

    Role: Editorial Review Board Member
  • New Investigator Awards Committee, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior 2018 - Present

    Role: Chairperson
  • Organizing Committee, Georgia State University Biotech Symposium 2016 - Present

    Role: Committee Member
  • American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative 2001 - Present

    Role: Editorial Review Board Member
  • Korean Nutrition Society 2001 - Present

    Role: Editorial Review Board Member