Associate Professor Pawel K. Olszewski

Associate Professor

Qualifications: PhD Cracow-Minnesota (joint program)

About Pawel

My laboratory studies molecular mechanisms that underlie food intake and pharmacological and dietary strategies that change appetite. We focus on the interplay between brain signalling that promotes consumption (e.g., via reward) and satiety-inducing systems that keep food intake within safe limits (e.g. oxytocin, melanocortins). We are interested in how experimental drugs, dietary modifications and changes in social environment affect feeding. The majority of our work involves studying brain activation, gene expression, as well as determining effects of specialized diets, intracranial and peripheral drugs and genetic modification on feeding parameters in laboratory animal models (rats, mice).

I am a Deputy Team Leader for molecular and cellular biology at the School of Science.

Aside from being part of the University of Waikato, I serve as:

Adjunct Associate Professor; Department of Food Science and Nutrition, CFANS, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN ( and Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (

Associate Investigator; Maurice Wilkins Centre  (

Board member: The Physiological Society of New Zealand (

External funding:

Our research is supported by government agencies, charitable trusts and industry players in New Zealand and overseas. Key funding sources include:

Royal Society of New Zealand

Dairy Goat Cooperative

US National Institutes of Health

US Department of Veterans' Affairs

Medical Research Kirikiriroa Charitable Trust

Key representative publications:

Effect of oxytocin on hunger discrimination. MA Head MA, Jewett DC, Gartner SN, Klockars A, Levine AS, Olszewski PK. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2019; 10, 297

Intragastric preloads of l-tryptophan reduce ingestive behavior via oxytocinergic neural mechanisms in male mice.  Gartner SN, Aidney F, Klockars A, Prosser C, Carpenter EA, Isgrove K, Levine AS, Olszewski PK. Appetite. 2018;125:278-286.

Oxytocin acting in the nucleus accumbens core decreases food intake.  Herisson FM, Waas JR, Fredriksson R, Schiöth HB, Levine AS, Olszewski PK. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. 2016; 28(4). doi: 10.1111/jne.12381.

Synaptic changes induced by melanocortin signalling. Caruso V, Lagerström MC, Olszewski PK, Fredriksson R, Schiöth HB. Nature Rev Neurosci. 2014;15(2):98-110

For a research profile, see the Google Scholar page:

Research Supervised


Chief supervisor:

  • Christian, David (in progress). Functional relationship between key neuroregulators of energy homeostasis and consumption of milk-based diets.
  • Liyanagama, Donisha (in progress). Reward-driven effects on mechanisms governing energy homeostasis.
  • Head, Mitchell (2021). Oxytocin as a pharmacological tool to curb overeating:
    Exploring synergy with opioid receptor blockade.
  • Wood, Erin (2021). Neural and molecular consequences of ingestion of milk-based diets.
  • Klockars, Oscar (2019). Identification of central circuitry components mediating anorexigenic action of oxytocin.
  • Gartner, Sarah (2018). Characterisation of an acute anorexigenic action of l-tryptophan: a link with neural mechanisms regulating appetite.
  • Herisson, Florence (2016). Oxytocin as an appetite suppressant that reduces feeding reward.

Supervisory panel member:

  • Pal, Tapasya (in progress). Neuromolecular analyses underlying anomalous brain wiring and peculiar feeding behaviour in autism spectrum disorder
  • Ulrich, Christine (2017). Comparative hypoxia responses and oxygen sensing in galaxiid fishes.
  • Salvitti, Lauren (2015). Elucidating the origin of tetrodotoxin in Pleurobranchaea maculata and stylochoplana sp.

MSc (Research)

  • Jervis, Robin (in progress). Age-dependent responsiveness to anorexigenic properties of oxytocin.
  • Bray, Jonathon (in progress). Aberrant reward processing in the VPA model of ASD.
  • Arafat, Mohammad (2019). Anorexic action and underlying neural mechanism of the lipid-based satiety factor oleoylethanolamide on milk consumption. (chief supervisor)
  • Garrett, Konagh (2018). Grazing and feeding management to reduce urinary nitrogen excretion and enteric methane emissions while maintaining or increasing milk production.
  • McColl, Laura (2017). Effects of naltrexone on energy- and palatability-driven consumption and neuronal activation in feeding-related forebrain areas: Relationship with age. (chief supervisor)
  • Isgrove, Kiriana (2017). Identification of central mechanisms underlying statin-induced changes in consummatory behavior in rats. (chief supervisor)
  • Laloli, Kathryn (2017). Neuroendocrine changes uderlying aberrant food selectivity in rat models of autism spectrum disorder. (supervisor)
  • Aidney, Fraser (2016). Dietary supplementation and intragastric infusions of L-tryptophan reduce food intake. (chief supervisor)
  • Blaza, Ron (2016). Exposure to familiar versus novel conspecifics is associated with differential activity of oxytocin circuits. (chief supervisor)
  • Brunton Chloe (2016). Social interaction affects the acquisition of lithium chloride-induced conditioned taste aversion via alteration of oxytocin activity in the hypothalamus. (chief supervisor)


  • Gerring, Crystal (2016). Oxytocin and vasopressin neuronal activity in response to novel object exposure in mice. (chief supervisor)
  • Churchill, Geoff (2014). Gossypol's effects on ingestive behaviour in mice: The first step in a systematic process to define gossypol's suitability for use in murine pest management. (chief supervisor)
  • Alhamad, Ali Hamad (2013). Validation of the Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ) in the population of Saudi preschoolers. (chief supervisor)

BSc (Hons)

  • Wood, Erin (2017). Analgesia in rats after central injections into the RIAC of ketamine analogues.
  • Christian, David (2014). Connexin 36 as a regulator of consummatory behaviour. (chief supervisor)
  • Blaza, Ron (2014). Involvement of connexin-36 in taste aversion: lack of association with changes in activity of the nucleus of the solitary tract. (chief supervisor)

Teaching Commitments


Biology; Genetics; Health; Molecular Biology; Science

obesity, anorexia, neuroscience, brain

Recent Publications

  • Wood, E. L., Gartner, S. N., Klockars, A., McColl, L. K., Christian, D. G., Jervis, R. E., . . . Olszewski, P. K. (2022). Whey-adapted versus natural cow’s milk formulation: Distinctive feeding responses and post-ingestive c-fos expression in laboratory mice. Foods, 11(2). doi:10.3390/foods11020141

  • Olszewski, P. K., Noble, E. E., Paiva, L., Ueta, Y., & Blevins, J. (2022). Oxytocin as a potential pharmacological tool to combat obesity. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. doi:10.1111/jne.13106

  • Williams, M. J., Alsehli, A. M., Gartner, S. N., Clemensson, L. E., Liao, S., Eriksson, A., . . . Schiöth, H. B. (2022). The statin target HMGCR regulates energy metabolism and food intake through central mechanisms. Cells, 11(6). doi:10.3390/cells11060970

  • Jewett, D. C., Liyanagamage, D. S. N. K., Vanden Avond, M. A., Anderson, M. A. B., Twaroski, K. A., Marek, M. A., . . . Levine, A. S. (2022). Chronic intermittent sucrose consumption facilitates the ability to discriminate opioid receptor blockade with naltrexone in rats. Nutrients, 14(5). doi:10.3390/nu14050926

View All research publications by Pawel Olszewski

Contact Details

Room: CD.2.01
Phone: +64 7 838 4658