"We are working towards an integrated understanding of how stress alters brain function, with particular emphasis on behavioral and neuroendocrine processes. In all vertebrates, exposure to an array of adverse conditions stimulates a common neuroendocrine response - the release of corticosteroid hormones. A major target for corticosteroids is the brain, where these hormones produce context-specific changes in neuronal function leading to changes in behavior and/or physiology that are critical for dealing with immediate threats. Paradoxically, when this adaptive neuroendocrine response is persistently activated, deleterious alterations in brain function may result. We have studied cellular, molecular and neural mechanisms mediating corticosteroid action in a variety of species. Current projects in the lab include:
1) Investigations of corticosteroid action the dorsomedial hypothalamus, a key site for integrating blood-borne and neural factors during an acute stress response. Corticosteroids appear to regulate serotonin clearance, and therefore neurotransmission, via novel transporters in this brain region.
2) Investigations into the regulation and functional significance of adult neurogenesis in vertebrate brains. Stress is a potent modulator of adult brain cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. We are using an amphibian model to study these processes, with particular interest in the role adult neurogenesis plays in seasonal neuroendocrine regulation."