Center for Addiction Medicine

Laura Holsen, Ph.D., M.S.

Laura Holsen Headshot

Research Associate in the Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Contact:     (617) 525-8772


Dr Holsen’s work in clinical neuroscience investigates reward processing, hormones, and appetite phenotypes in eating disorders, obesity, and depression. The focus of the Holsen lab is on understanding the neurobiological factors that drive appetite, mood-related eating behaviors, and weight change, with a broad goal of ameliorating negative health outcomes and chronic diseases associated with compulsive eating. Current projects cover stress-induced eating in major depressive disorder, postmenopausal neurocognitive decline in women with obesity, and neurohormonal predictors of response to weight loss therapies including bariatric surgery, neuromodulation techniques, pharmacotherapy, and macronutrient diets. Dr. Holsen was a scholar in a K12 program based at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and then was supported on a K01 award. In her current R01, she is supervising one post-doctoral fellow in the funded project. Additionally, Dr. Holsen is collaborating with Dr. Evins on a study of neurobiological impact of weight loss surgery and neuroimaging biomarkers associated with reward learning and inhibitory control that predict weight loss.


Current Projects

Ghrelin modulation of mesolimbic reward signaling in stress-induced hyperphagia

NIDDK R01 DK104772  2015–20

The goal of this project is to examine the effects of psychosocial stress on the relationship between ghrelin and brain activity/connectivity to food and non-food reward in individuals with depression.


Neurocognitive changes in obesity

Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Women’s Brain Initiative 2017- 21

The goal of this project is to examine relationships between ghrelin, brain structure/function in regions involved in cognition and food intake, and memory and decision-making in postmenopausal women with and without obesity.

%d bloggers like this: