Steve M. Simasko, Ph.D.

Steve M. Simasko, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Office: Veterinary and Biomedical Research Building (VBR) room 205F
Phone: (509) 335-6624

Current Positions

2003-Present Professor, IPN, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
2008-Present Director, Neuroscience, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
2008-Present Chair, IPN, Washington State University, Pullman, WA


One area of my research is the molecular mechanisms by which nutrient relevant signals activate vagal afferent nerves that innervate the gastrointestinal track.  This signaling is an important component in the control of food intake, which if dysregulated, can lead to obesity.  The overarching goal of this research is to develop insights that can inform therapeutic interventions that improve body weight regulation and general health.

A second focus is investigating the neuronal basis by which chronic alcohol exposure leads to disruptions of circadian rhythms and sleep quality in a rodent model.  Poor sleep in recovering alcoholics has been shown to be increase the likelihood of relapse to drinking.  If we can determine the basis for this dysregulation, interventions can be designed that would help recovered alcoholics remain sober for greater periods of time.  

Biographical Information

Steven M. Simasko, Professor, earned a B.A. degree in chemistry from the Colorado College in 1977, and a Ph.D. degree in pharmacology at the University of Washington in 1983.  He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY prior to taking a faculty position in the Department of Physiology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the State University of New York in Buffalo, NY.  In 1994 he returned to the west to take a faculty position in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.

Current Funding

HHS-NIH Mechanisms of Fatty Acid Control of Feeding, Co-PI
HHS-NIH Asynchronous Glutamate Release in Vagal Afferent, Collaborator


  1. Darling, R.A., H. Zhao, D. Kinch, A.J. Li, S.M. Simasko, S. Ritter. 2014.  Mercaptoacetate and fatty acids exert direct and antagonistic effects on nodose neurons via GPR40 fatty acid receptors.  Am. J. Physiol. (Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol.) 307: R35-R43.
  2. Riley, T.P., J.M. Neal-McKenney, D.R. Buelow, M.E. Konkel, S.M. Simasko. 2013. Capsaicin-sensitive vagal afferent neurons contribute to the detection of pathogenic bacterial colonization in the gut.  J. Neuroimmunol. 257: 36-45.
  3. Wiater M.F., S. Mukherjee., A.J. Li, T.T. Dinh, E.M. Rooney, S.M. Simasko, and S Ritter. 2011.  Circadian integration of sleep/wake and feeding requires NPY-receptor expressing neurons in the mediobasal hypothalamus. Am. J. Physiol. (Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol.) 301: R1569-R1583.
  4. Zhao, H., and S.M. Simasko. 2010. Role of transient receptor potential channels in cholecystokinin-induced activation of cultured vagal afferent neurons.  Endocrinology 151: 5237-5246.
  5. Mukherjee, S. and S.M. Simasko. 2009. Chronic alcohol treatment in rats alters sleep by fragmenting periods of vigilance cycling in the light period with extended wakenings.  Behav. Brain Res. 198: 113-124.

(Note: PubMed Search may produce additional "Simasko" authors.)