Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Phone: (301) 295-9691
Molecular neuroendocrine regulation of reproductive function Information
B.S. Zoology, The University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. Reproductive Physiology, Texas A&M University
Post Doctoral Training Developmental Neuroendocrinology, Columbia University
Molecular Neuroendocrinology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
The laboratory focuses on the molecular and developmental regulation of neuroendocrine systems. Our focus are, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) peptides and ovarian steroids.
In the brain, neurons that synthesize GnRH have a scattered distribution along the basal forebrain region with the highest numbers located around the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT) in many animal species. The approximately 1000 GnRH neurons extend their axons to the median eminence of the hypothalamus where they terminate to form the final common pathway for the regulation of reproductive function. During development, GnRH neurons are "born" in the olfactory placode and begin their migration into the brain along the vomeronasal nerve. Recently, other forms of GnRH's have been cloned in the brain and in peripheral tissues. In addition to their ability to regulate reproductive function via its action at the pituitary, GnRH is known to have extrapituitary actions. Agonists and antagonists of GnRH are some of the most commonly used drugs. The discovery of these multiple forms of GnRH's and their respective receptors may alter the way we design the next generation GnRH agonists and antagonists to treat major clinical symptoms among women. The questions we are asking in the lab are: What are the molecular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the developmental, tissue-specific, hormonal, and neurotransmitter regulation of GnRH's gene expression and neuron-specific gene expression? What is the nature of the clock that regulates the pulsatile secretion of GnRH? How does GnRH regulate behavior?
Likewise, the recent discoveries of multiple forms of steroid hormone receptors and the lack of specificity in agonist or antagonist action have resulted in controversies in their clinical applications. The new generations of SERMS (selective estrogen receptor modulators), for example, have allowed us to better understand mechanisms of action. Our laboratory focuses here on how steroid hormones regulate behaviors such as motivation and anxiety. A major focus will be to determine the underlying role of steroid hormones in post-traumatic stress syndrome.