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College of Public Health

Matthew Zahner

Matthew Zahner

Assistant Professor
Department of Health Sciences
423-439-4490 /
101C Lamb Hall


Post-doctoral Fellowship, (Neurophysiology)
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Ph.D. Integrative Biosciences (Neuroscience)
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 

M.S. Human Sciences (Nutritional Sciences)
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
American Dietetic Association Dietetic Internship

B.S. Agriculture and Natural Resources (Nutritional Sciences)
The University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT


East Tennessee State University
Assistant Professor
College of Public Health
Health Sciences Department

Pfizer Drug Safety Research & Development
Principal Scientist
Groton, CT 


Research in the Zahner Neurophysiology Laboratory focuses on neural regulation of blood pressure, energy balance and metabolic activity in healthy and diseased states.  More specifically, we are focused on characterizing the autonomic activity of cells within the brain, the neurotransmitters, and the neural networks that differentially control reflex responses that people typically take for granted when they are working properly.  Another part of our research focuses on disorders that are directly affected by obesity and disorders of the nervous system such as cardiac pain, sleep apnea, and hypertension. 

To do this research our lab uses cutting-edge electrophysiological approaches, histological assessments, and microinjection of viruses that can manipulate the genetics and activity of specific types of neurons.  In addition to these laboratory approaches we also use radio-telemetry technology and computational approaches to non-invasively record cardiovascular and metabolic activity. Projects are also being designed to determine the beneficial effects of neurostimulation to improve metabolic and cardiovascular activity.


2019 - 2022
NIH NHLBI 1R15HL147286-01; Identification of Central Neural Pathways Responsible for FGF21-induced Changes in Sympathetic Metabolic and Cardiovascular Activity. ($437,225).

2019 - 2022 
NIH NHLBI R15HL145645-01 Characterizing the role of the Dorsomedial Hypothalamic Nucleus and Raphe Pallidus in the Cardiogenic Sympathetic Reflex. ($436,800)

2018 - 2019
ETSU RDC MAJOR Grants Program Obesity-induced Hypertension; Hormones of Obesity that Activate Metabolic and Cardiovascular Centers within the Brain ($10,000)


  • Human Physiology
  • General Biology
  • Immunology
  • Laboratory on Neural Regulation of the Circulation
  • Mechanisms of Energy Balance
  • Human Neuroanatomy Lab 


  • American Physiological Society
  • American Heart Assocation
  • Society for Neuroscience
The American Physiology Society Committee Positions
  • Chair of the Physiologists in Industry Committee (2017 – Present)
  • Joint Program Committee
  • Chair of the Cardiovascular Section Development Committee (2014 – 2017)
  • Cardiovascular Section Steering Committee
  • Cardiovascular Section Programming Committee


From Pub Med   |   From Google Scholar

Cardiogenic Sympathetic Reflex

Zahner MR, Li DP, Chen SR, Pan HL. Cardiac vanilloid receptor 1-expressing afferent nerves and their role in the cardiogenic sympathetic reflex in rats.J Physiol. 2003 Sep 1;551(Pt 2):515-23. 

Zahner MR and Pan HL.Role of paraventricular nucleus in the cardiogenic sympathetic reflex in rats.Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Feb;288(2):R420-6. 

Spinal Cord Injury

Zahner, M.R. and Schramm, L.P. Spinal regions involved in baroreflex control of renal sympathetic nerve activity in the rat. Am. J. Physiology., Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. R910–R916, 2011. 

Zahner, M.R. Kulikowicz, E, Schramm, L.P. Recovery of baroreflex control of renal sympathetic nerve activity after spinal lesions in the rat. Am. J. Physiol., Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 301: R1584–1590, 2011. 

Castillo DG, Zahner MR, Schramm LP. Identification of the spinal pathways involved in the recovery of baroreflex control after spinal lesions in the rat using pseudorabies virusAm J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 303: R590–R598, 2012. 

Book Chapters

Bello N.T., & Zahner M.R. (2017) Central nervous system stimulants and drugs that suppress appetite In Side Effects of Drugs Annual Volume 39 Oxford, UK: Elsevier 

Zahner M.R., & Bello N.T. (2016) Central nervous system stimulants and drugs that suppress appetite In Side Effects of Drugs Annual Volume 38 Oxford, UK: Elsevier  


Prior to pursuing my scientific career I served honorably in the US Air Force where I travelled extensively throughout the United States and South Korea. While I was earning my undergraduate and graduate degrees I was also a professional cyclist and raced mountain bikes, road bikes, and cycloscross for 7 years. After finishing college and beginning my post-doc I stopped racing and am now a mediocre, albeit tremendously competitive golfer. After spending 5 years at Pfizer, where I built a neurophysiology lab, I decided to return to academia. I now live in Johnson City Tennessee with my wife Suzanne and sons Maxwell and Oliver.
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