Dana Small, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychology; Director, Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center

Departments & Organizations

Psychiatry: Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY) | Connecticut Mental Health Center | Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Small Lab | Stress & Addiction Clinical Research Program | Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science

Diabetes Research Center

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Obesity Research Working Group

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Neuroscience

Office of Cooperative Research


I am a psychologist and neuroscientist with graduate degrees in Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology from McGill University.  My research focuses on understanding how sensory, metabolic and neural signals are integrated to determine food choices and on how the dysregulation of these systems contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cognitive impairment. My group primarily uses neuroimaging, neuropsychological and metabolic methodologies in humans; however, we also have collaborations with a number of basic research labs at Yale and abroad where we use a revere translational approach to pursue mechanistic questions in rodent models that arise from findings in humans.  My laboratory generally consists of 1-2 phd students; 3-4 post-docs; a research associate professor and a handful of international interns and Yale undergraduates. I have trained 5 PhD students, 12 post-doctoral fellows and over 40 undergraduates and medical students. The  lab has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2003.

In addition to my activities at Yale, I am also involved in a number of initiatives related to advancing knowledge and treatment of diabetes and obesity. I am co-leading a National Institutes of Health workgroup developing a neuropsychological battery for use in obesity and diabetes trials and chairing the annual meeting for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. I am executive editor at Appetite and Biological Psychiatry and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Behavior, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences. 

Education & Training

PhD McGill University (2001)
MSc McGill University (1998)

Honors & Recognition

  • Alan Epstein Award for a seminal research contribution to the field of ingestive behavior. Awarded by the Society for the Study of Ingestive BehaviorSociety for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (2015)

  • Appointed to the National Academy of Sciences Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS)National Academy of Sciences (2015)

  • Ruth Pike Award for contributions to nutrition researchPenn State University (2010)

  • Firmenich Young Investigator Award for Research in Fragrance and Flavors,Firmenich (2007)

  • Invitee 18th Annual Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium for Young InvestigatorsNational Academy of Sciences (2006)

  • Moskowitz-Jacobs Award for Research Excellence in the Psychophysics of Taste and SmellThe Association for Chemoreception Sciences (2005)

  • Ajinomoto Young Investigator Award for Research in GustationThe Association for Chemoreception Sciences (2003)

  • Elected member of the International Neuropsychological SymposiumInternational Neuropsychological Symposium (2002)

Professional Service

  • Klarman Family Foundation (2017)

  • Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (2016 - Present) From August 2016 to August 2018 I will be acting as the program chair for the The Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) is an organization committed to advancing scientific research on food and fluid intake and its associated biological, psychological and social processes. The Society provides a multidisciplinary environment for the free exchange of ideas and information, and serves as a resource for scientific expertise and education on topics related to the study of ingestive behavior.

  • Welcome Trust (2016 - Present)

  • National Institutes of Health (2015)

  • Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences, National Academy of Sciences (2014 - Present) The Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS) works toward five principal goals: To engage academic and other research scientists working in the behavioral, cognitive, and sensory sciences in the consideration of major national policy issues; To promote and advance cross-disciplinary inquiry into complex scientific and policy questions; To provide a forum for objective, independent, and rigorous deliberation among researchers, the public, the media, Congress, professional associations, the NSF, and other federal agencies; To draw attention to the significance of the behavioral, cognitive, and sensory sciences to national policy; To link these sciences to the wider range of scientific and technological questions addressed by the National Academies. The Board's highest profile activities aimed at meeting these goals are its biannual meetings.

  • Ad hoc Reviewer, NIDDK, DDK-C Study Section (2013)

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (2013)

  • The Obesity Society (2009 - Present) Study Section

  • Frontiers in Neuroscience (2009 - Present) Editorial

  • The Association for Chemoreception Sciences (2008 - Present) Executive Committee

  • European Journal of Neuroscience (2008 - Present) Editorial

  • Chemosensory Perception (2007 - Present) Editorial

  • MD/PhD Admissions Committee (2007 - Present) Admissions Committee

  • NIH/NIMH Special Panel Study Section (2007 - Present) Study Section

  • NIH Cognition and Perception Study Section (2004) Study Section

  • National Science Foundation (2002 - Present) Study Section


  • Visiting Professor Tübingen, Germany (2017)

    I will be starting as a Visiting Professor at the University of Tubingen working in collaboration with Professor Hubert Priessl

  • Scientific Advisory Board Meeting Leipzig, Germany (2017 - 2017)

    ICEMED (A Helmholtz Alliance)

  • Collaboration New York, United States (2017)

  • Visiting Professor Chongqing, China (2017 - 2017)

  • Collaboration Paris, France (2016)

  • Collaboration Cologne, Germany (2014)

  • Collaboration New Haven, United States (2009)

  • Collaboration Montreal, Canada (2001)

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