Robert Jay Phillips

Robert Jay Phillips

Robert Jay Phillips, Ph.D.
703 Third Street
West Lafayette
Indiana, 47907
phone: (765) 494-6268
Bob Phillips

Dr. Phillips is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and the Institute for Integrative Neuroscience at Purdue University. His research focuses on the development and refinement of neural tracer and immunohistochemical protocols for investigating the structure of the autonomic circuitry controlling gastric function, and the application of these techniques to exploring experimentally the mechanisms that underlie neuropathies and dystrophies that complicate recovery following surgery or that occur over the normal course of healthy aging. In addition to extensive experience mapping the neural circuits involved in the control of gastrointestinal physiology, he has also routinely used automated systems to quantify feeding behavior as an assay of gastric function.

Phillips' Research

Research agenda

The Phillips lab will assist in the implementation of tract tracing and immunohistochemical protocols to visualize the vagal circuits located in the stomach wall. To identify areas of importance, state-of-the-art neuron imaging, reconstruction and tracing software will be used to map the distribution and density of vagal terminal specializations. Closed-loop stimulators will then be surgically implanted at localized sites on the stomach wall where focal stimulation applied to the vagus nerve is predicted to optimally modify gastric physiology. Noninvasive microbehavioral analyses of food and water intake will provide behavioral indices of gastric fill, accommodation and emptying. Once successful modulation of gastric function is achieved, long-term studies in rat models of obesity will be run to determine if our stimulation protocols achieve more impressive reductions in adiposity compared to previous reports using first-generation open-looped stimulators.

Selected publications

  • Phillips, R.J., & Powley, T.L. (1996). Gastric volume rather than nutrient content inhibits food intake. American Journal of Physiology, 271(3 Pt 2), R766-779. PMID: 8853402
  • Phillips, R.J., & Powley, T.L. (2000). Tension and stretch receptors in gastrointestinal smooth muscle: re-evaluating vagal mechanoreceptor electrophysiology. Brain Research: Brain Research Reviews, 34(1-2), 1-26. PMID: 11086184
  • Phillips, RJ., & Powley, T.L. (2007) Innervation of the gastrointestinal tract: Patterns of aging. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical 136:1-19.
  • Phillips, R.J., Walter, G.C., Wilder, S.L., Baronowsky, E.A., & Powley, T.L. (2008). Alpha-synuclein-immunopositive myenteric neurons and vagal preganglionic terminals: Autonomic pathway implicated in Parkinson's disease? Neuroscience 153, 733-750. PMCID: PMC2605676.
  • Phillips, R.J., & Powley, T.L. (2012) Macrophages associated with the intrinsic and extrinsic autonomic innervations of the rat gastrointestinal tract. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical, 169:12-27.