Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Carol Elias, PhD

Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Michigan Neuroscience Institute Affiliate

Elizabeth W. Caswell Diabetes Institute

Lab Members

Susan Allen, MS

Research Associate

Emily Henson, MS

Research Associate

Cristina Sáenz de Miera, PhD

Research Investigator

My main research interest is to explore the neuronal networks integrating internal or external environmental signals to the reproductive and metabolic functions. In my current position, I am focused on characterizing the role of different cell populations of the hypothalamic ventral premammillary nucleus (PMv) on the neuroendocrine control of reproduction. For this purpose, I am using genetically modified mouse models, reproductive and metabolic phenotyping, transcriptome analysis and novel genetic and molecular tools (including viral vectors and CRISPR/Cas9).

In my independent research project, funded by MNORC, I am exploring how environmental factors during pregnancy affect the development of hypothalamic networks involved in the control of metabolism and reproduction.


Chelsea Fortin, MD

Clinical Fellow, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility

As a clinician, my practice is primarily focused on infertility, but I also see and treat patients with a wide array of reproductive endocrine disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, menopause, disorders of puberty, and primary ovarian insufficiency. As a researcher, I am interested in the link between metabolism and reproduction, specifically the association between childhood obesity and earlier onset of puberty. The goal of my research is to determine if obesity-induced changes in blood brain barrier permeability impact the timing of pubertal onset.


Brenda Cisneros Larios, MS

PhD candidate

My main research interest is to better understand the neural networks of Prokineticin receptor 2 (PROKR2) expressing neurons that link PROKR2 signaling to reproductive control. A subset of patients diagnosed with Kallmann Syndrome, characterized by gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) deficiency and anosmia, have been found to have mutations in the PROKR2 gene. Genetic studies in humans combined with research in mice have determined PROKR2 signaling to be important in the migration of (GnRH) neurons from the nasal placode to the hypothalamus. Therefore, PROKR2 expressing neurons are important for proper development and function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. However, expression of PROKR2 persists in areas of the brain known to regulate reproduction and PROKR2 signaling has been implicated in regulating the estrous cycle via unknown pathways. Using the Prokr2-Cre mouse model we developed, I am interested in uncovering the neural circuitry by which PROKR2 expressing neurons modulate the HPG axis in adulthood.


Bethany Beekly, BS

PhD candidate

Broadly, my research interests lie in the integration of neuroendocrine systems and environmental influences for regulation of fundamental physiological processes. I currently study the mechanisms by which sleep and the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis interact to result in normal reproductive development and function.


Lab Alumni

Ally Cara, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow, UCLA

David Garcia-Galiano, PhD

Research Scientist, University of Córdoba, Spain

Nicole Bellefontaine, PhD

Biotech Industry

Xingfa Han, PhD

Assistant Professor, Sichuan Agricultural University, China

Beatriz de Carvalho Borges Del Grande, PhD

Research Investigator, University of Michigan.

Catherine Milford, BS

Biotech Industry

William Frankel, BS

Medical student at Baylor College

Erica Bove, MD

Boston IVF - The Albany Center

Zaid Mohsen, MS

Medical Student at Wayne State University

Seokmin Sim, PhD

Biotech Industry

Sanseray da Silveira Cruz Machado, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow, University of São Paulo

Dhirender Ratra, BS

Research Assistant, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Visiting Scholars

Xingfa Han

Assistant Professor, Sichuan Agricultural University, China.

Mariana Rosolen Tavares, BS

Ph.D. Candidate at Universidade Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

Jones Graceli, Ph.D.

Associate Professor at Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Espírito Santo, Brazil

Márcio Torsoni

Associate Professor at Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Limeira, Brazil

Hellen Veida P. Silva

Graduate Student, University of Alberta, Canada

Larissa Oliveira, PhD

PhD Candidate at University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil

Honorary Lab Members


Project: Observational study of interactions between Sciurus carolinensis, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, and Tamias striatus in overlapping urban territories

Skills: Small mammal stalking, nighttime camouflage, indoor cultivation of Nepeta cataria


Currently pursuing an MS in Ornithology with a focus on woodpeckers native to the state of Michigan. In addition to his thesis, he is working on a side project with a collaborator in Entomology to investigate the potential benefits of dietary Camponotus pennsylvanicus.

Lewis & Trixie

Co-investigators of invasive rodent species in human habitats and efficient removal of invasive rodents from the home.


PhD in Rabbit Hunting, Minor in Fetch, Swimming, and Laser Pointer Chasing

Isis - in memoriam

Principal Investigator in the University of Garden Homes , Ann Arbor, MI