Molecular & Integrative Physiology Department
In our laboratory, we aim to unravel the neural circuitry and molecular pathways linking metabolism and reproduction. Our ultimate goal is to determine the mechanisms by which metabolic imbalance, as in obesity and diabetes, disrupts reproductive function. The consequences for human health are many. They vary from difficulties for successful pregnancy to aggravation of polycystic ovary syndrome and ovulatory dysfunction, decreased sperm quality and infertility. If able to conceive, obese women have higher chances of early and recurrent miscarriages, and double the risk of preterm birth, stillbirth and neonatal death.
The hypothalamus is the main regulator and guardian of the internal environment. It orchestrates the autonomic, endocrine and behavioral responses necessary to maintain life and species survival. Among them, metabolism and reproduction are both controlled by hypothalamic nuclei. In our studies, we use genetically-engineered mouse models that allow the manipulation of genes in cell- and time-specific manners, viral vectors, molecular brain mapping, and visualization of physiological changes using dyes and reporter genes.