Associate Faculty — Ph. D.
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
My laboratory is interested in the mechanisms by which the brain controls reproductive development and aging. We are focusing on a group of neurons in the hypothalamus that synthesize and release a peptide, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), that is the primary molecule controlling reproductive function.
- Neural mechanisms of reproductive development and puberty: During normal maturation, changes in hypothalamic GnRH release and biosynthesis are responsible for the reproductive process. In order to better understand the mechanisms by which GnRH neurons change, and the factors that regulate GnRH neurons, we study GnRH release, gene expression, neuroanatomy and physiology in normally developing male and female rats. Current research is focused on the roles of the NMDA receptor, and a neurotrophic factor, IGF-I, in their regulation of GnRH cells.
- Effects of environmental and hormonal factors that perturb reproductive function: We are also studying how perturbations of the neuroendocrine system (e.g. by environmental factors that may mimic steroid hormones, or pharmacological agents acting on receptors on GnRH neurons) result in aberrant reproductive functions. In particular, we are trying to understand whether the brain may be a primary target of endocrine disrupting chemicals, and the mechanisms thereof. These studies may help us to develop interventions to protect against environmental factors that may perturb normal reproductive development.
- Neural mechanisms for reproductive senescence: The mechanisms for reproductive senescence are poorly understood, particularly whether the brain (as opposed to the gonad) plays a role in this process. Experiments in our laboratory are ongoing to provide basic information as to the role of the hypothalamus, including the GnRH neurosecretory system, sex steroid hormone receptors (e.g., the estrogen receptor), and NMDA receptors that regulate GnRH cells, and how they change during reproductive aging.