My doctoral work in neuroendocrinology was performed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in the laboratory of Dr. Ladislav Krulich. Our laboratory was a part of the Neuroendocrinology Group headed by Dr. SM McCann. After receiving my Ph.D. degree in 1983, I did post-doctoral work with Drs. Herbert Meltzer and Gary Gudelsky at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. My studies as a post-doc included sophisticated neuroendocrine studies of neuropeptide release using hypophysial portal blood collection techniques and evaluating effects of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs on neuroendocrine endpoints. After a brief period at Case Western University, I took a faculty position at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School working on hypothalamic neuropeptide systems with Dr. JB Martin. Much of our work at this time focused on a newly identified peptide called galanin. In 1994, I spent two years as a program director at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA where I directed the Neuroendocrinology and Neuronal and Glial Mechanisms Programs. Subsequently in 1996, I joined the faculty at the MPRC. Because of the integrative nature of studying neuropsychiatric disorders, I have been able to use my diverse neuroscience training to probe more deeply into the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and the role of stress in the etiology of the disease.
The primary focus of my research is the neurobiology of stress. Stress can be loosely defined as the inability of an organism to control its internal or external environment in response to a physical or psychological challenge. This lack of control triggers a series of preprogrammed neurobiological, behavioral and neuroendocrinological responses, which are collectively known as the stress response. Neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, appear to be triggered or exacerbated by inappropriate responses to stress. My laboratory is investigating the neurochemical, neuroanatomical and molecular biological events initiated by stress, to better understand the etiology of schizophrenia and depression. On-going studies utilize modern molecular biological, biochemical and organismal techniques to determine the involvement of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters in the sexually-dimorphic response to stress. Additional studies focus on the effects of stress during development and how this influences adult behaviors.
Lab Techniques and Equipment:
Because of the multidisciplinary approach we are using to study the brain and how stress affects it, an array of biochemical, molecular biological and behavioral techniques are being used. These techniques include recombinant DNA techniques; DNA microarrays; molecular neuroanatomical techniques, such as in situ hybridization histochemistry; techniques to study proteins, such as RIA and western blotting; and a host of in vivo techniques to investigate behavior especially directed toward social behavior and cognitive function.