Our lab is broadly interested in understanding how reproductive hormones affect temperature and energy balance. The menopausal transition is associated with hot flashes and increased visceral body fat. Our research aims to understand how estrogens act on the hypothalamus to alter temperature homeostasis and metabolic health. These studies can help us better understand the weight gain and hot flashes that people can experience during the menopausal transition.

To understand the mechanisms by which estrogen alters homeostasis, we focus on the following broad questions: How does the brain regulate temperature and energy balance? How are homeostatic neural circuits modulated by sex variables? How are homeostatic circuits modulated by changes in estrogen signaling?

Our approach integrates molecular profiling, viral tools, and genetically engineered mice to define the neurons and genes critical for maintaining temperature and energy balance. This approach allows us to dissect the effects of estrogen on distinct neuronal populations with spatial, molecular, and temporal specificity. Current studies focus on hypothalamic neurons that express estrogen receptor alpha (green).

We have active collaborations with the labs of:

Dr. Ed van Veen, UCLA (faculty page, lab website)

Dr. Annegret Falkner, Princeton (lab website)

Dr. Avi Adhikari, UCLA (lab website)

Dr. Weizhe Hong, UCLA (lab website)

Dr. Olu Ajijola, UCLA (lab website)

Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla (faculty page)

Dr. Claudio Villanueva (lab website)