W. Sue Ritter is a Regents Professor Emerita and neuroscientist in the Dept of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University where her long-standing research interest and commitment is in neural and endocrine mechanisms controlling food intake and energy homeostasis. Her current research investigates the mechanisms through which glucose and fatty acids are detected by the brain and peripheral nervous system, and the neural pathways that mediate appropriate responses to glucose and fatty acid deficits. Her work, which has significance for human medicine in areas of obesity, diabetes and for reduction of potentially lethal side effects associated with insulin therapy, has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Society. Dr. Ritter’s research approach is multifaceted, utilizing behavioral measures, endocrine and metabolic monitoring, molecular neurosurgery with targeted toxins, gene silencing, chemogenetics, neuroanatomical track tracing, tissue culture and ratiometric calcium imaging. Her most recent work includes the role of neuroglial cells in metabolic monitoring in the brain.
Dr. Ritter received her Ph.D. in 1973 from Bryn Mawr College, served as Senior Psychologist in the Department of Psychopharmacology, Wyeth Laboratories, Philadelphia, PA (1972-1974) and joined the faculty of Washington State University in 1974. She received the Pfizer Award for Excellence in Research (1996) and the Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Scholarship and the Arts (2009). In 1986-87 she was a Fogarty International Fellow in the Gastrointestinal Science Research Unit, London Hospital Medical College, London, England, and in 1994-95 she was visiting professor in the Department of Medicine, Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, Australia. Dr. Ritter has mentored numerous undergraduate honors students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Her professional activities have included membership on National Institutes of Health study sections, National Science Foundation peer review panels, and service as an editorial board member and manuscript reviewer for scientific journals. She also served on the NIH Nutrition Thought Leaders Panel, on the Long Term Planning Committee for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, and on the advisory board for the University of Washington Obesity and Diabetes Center of Excellence. Dr. Ritter also has served her local community, including as a Board of Directors member for the Palouse Habitat for Humanity.