Faculty & Staff bios

Ed Wagner, PhD

Professor of Physiology

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

E-Mail: EWagner@westernu.edu

Phone: 909-469-5239

Join year: September 2001


Dual Ph.D. Pharmacology & Toxicology / Neuroscience, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 1994
B.S., in Psychobiology, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 1986
Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA, 1983

Education Experience

Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Physiology & Pharmacology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR, 1994-98

Teaching Experience

Professor, Western University of Health Sciecnces, COMP, Pomona, CA 2014-present

Associate Professor, Western University of Health Sciences, COMP, Pomona, CA, 2005-2014

Assistant Professor, Western University of Health Sciences, COMP, Pomona, CA, 2001-2005

Visiting Professor (Adjunct), Department of Neurobiology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 2001-2010

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR, 1998-2001


Gastrointestinal Physiology
Reproductive Physiology
Regulatory Neurobiology – Synaptic Integration in the Hypothalamus: The GnRH Neuronal System
Endocrine Physiology
Molecular and Cellular Basis of Medicine Physiology

Research Interest

My research interests focus on the synaptic and hormonal determinants underlying the hypothalamic control of energy balance, and how these can be influenced by diet and the gonadal steroid milieu. I use state-of-the-art, optogenetic and chemogenetic approaches, both in vivo and in vitro, to assess inhibitory, retrograde endocannabinoid signaling at a synapse comprising glutamatergic, steroidogenic factor (SF)1-containing neurons in the dorsomedial region of the hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus (VMN) and the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons located downstream in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC), and how it helps regulate energy intake and expenditure. This synapse represents a critical, anorexigenic (appetite suppressing) component of the hypothalamic energy balance circuitry, as well as a point of convergence for orexigenic (appetite stimulating) neuropeptides like orphanin FQ (aka nociceptin) and peripheral, anorexigenic hormones like insulin and leptin. I recently have discovered that males are much more sensitive to orexigenic cannabinoid CB1 receptor stimulation, and exhibit more extensive retrograde inhibition of glutamatergic input at VMN SF1/ARC POMC synapses, than females. In addition, testosterone accentuates whereas estradiol attenuates this endocannabinoid tone, which is also heightened under conditions of diet-induced obesity/insulin resistance. These findings indicate that gender, as well as hormonal and dietary status, should be taken into account when considering the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of HIV/AIDS - or cancer- related cachexia, or obesity.

Research Grant

  • R01 Grant (Co-PI Wagner), National Institute on Child Health and Development, 06/09 – 05/16
  • R15 AREA Grant (R15 DA024314), National Institute on Drug Abuse, 08/08 – 09/16
  • Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01 DA00521), National Institute on Drug Abuse, 09/00 - 08/03


Recent Publications:

  • Wagner EJ. Sex differences in cannabinoid-regulated biology: A focus on energy homeostasis. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2016 Jan;40:101-9. doi 10.1016/j.yfrbe.2106.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 19.
  • Conde K, Meza C, Kelly MJ, Sinchak K, Wagner EJ. Estradiol Rapidly Attenuates ORL-1 Receptor-Mediated Inhibition of Proopiomelanocortin Neurons via Gq-Coupled, Membrane-Initiated Signaling. Neuroendocrinology. 2016 Jan 16. PMID:26765570
  • Mela V, Vargas A, Meza C, Kachani M, Wagner EJ. Modulatory influences of estradiol and other anorexigenic hormones on metabotropic:Gi/O-coupled receptor function in the hypothalamic control of energy homeostasis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 Jul 28. pii: S0960-0760(15)30027-3. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2015.07.014.
  • Borgquist A, Meza C, Wagner EJ. Role of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the estrogenic attenuation of cannabinoid-induced changes in energy homeostasis. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Feb 1;113(3):904-14. doi: 10.1152/jn.00615.2014. Epub 2014 Nov 12.
  • Borgquist A, Meza C, Wagner EJ. The role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the androgenic potentiation of cannabinoid-induced changes in energy homeostasis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Dec 30:ajpendo.00421.2014. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00421.2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25550281
  • Qiu J, Zhang C, Borgquist A, Nestor CC, Smith AW, Bosch MA, Ku S, Wagner EJ, Rønnekleiv OK, Kelly MJ. Insulin excites anorexigenic proopiomelanocortin neurons via activation of canonical transient receptor potential channels. Cell Metab. 2014 Apr 1;19(4):682-93. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.03.004.
  • Borgquist A, Kachani M, Tavitian N, Sinchak K, Wagner EJ. Estradiol negatively modulates the pleiotropic actions of orphanin FQ/nociceptin at proopiomelanocortin synapses. Neuroendocrinology. 2013;98(1):60-72. doi: 10.1159/000351868. Epub 2013 Jul 2.
  • Sinchak K, Wagner EJ. Estradiol signaling in the regulation of reproduction and energy balance. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2012 Oct;33(4):342-63. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Sep 7.
  • Viveros MP, Mendrek A, Paus T, Lopez-Rodriguez AB, Marco EM, Yehuda R, Cohen H, Lehrner A, Wagner EJ: A comparative, developmental, and clinical perspective of neurobehavioral sexual dimorphisms. Frontiers in Neuroscience 2012 Jun 12;6:84. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00084.
  • Washburn N, Borgquist A, Wang K, Jeffery GS, Kelly MJ, Wagner EJ: Receptor subtypes and signal transduction mechanisms contributing to the estrogenic attenuation of cannabinoid-induced changes in energy homeostasis. Neuroendocrinology 2013;97(2):160-75. doi: 10.1159/000338669.
  • Viveros MP, Bermudez-Silva FJ, Lopez-Rodriguez AB and Wagner EJ. The Endocannabinoid System as Pharmacological Target Derived from Its CNS Role in Energy Homeostasis and Reward. Applications in Eating Disorders and Addiction. Pharmaceuticals 2011, 4(8), 1101-1136; doi:10.3390/ph4081101.
  • Viveros MP, Marco E, Lopez-Gallardo M, Garcia-Segura LM and Wagner EJ. Framework for sex differences in adolescent neurobiology: A focus on cannabinoids. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2011, 35 (8), pp. 1740-1751.
  • Jeffery GS, Peng KC and Wagner EJ. The role of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase and AMP-activated kinase in the rapid estrogenic attenuation of cannabinoid-induced changes in energy homeostasis. Pharmaceuticals 2011, 4 (4), pp. 630-651.

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