Sex-Dependent Central Regulation of Female Metabolism and Physiology
We are broadly interested in how the female brain uniquely controls a wide-range of sex-specific physiological responses. Currently, we focus on estrogen signaling in the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH) that includes the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and the arcuate nucleus (ARC). Mouse models coupled with genomics and pharmacogenetics are leveraged to define the estrogen-sensitive neuronal modules important in locomotion, thermogenesis, reproduction and bone density. Our research program is highly relevant to age-related diseases in hormone deficient stages and to women’s health.
Linking Lipid Ligands With Nuclear Receptor Function
Ongoing research focuses on NR5A nuclear receptors, SF-1 and LRH-1 because of their critical roles in various aspects of metabolism. We are currently working to understand a puzzling question posed by our earlier structural studies – why would phospholipids serve as NR5A ligands. This is being explored for LRH-1 in two model systems, the liver hepatocyte, and the mouse or human intestinal organoid. Efforts are underway to find synthetic ligands that could prove useful in fatty liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.