Research

Our lab is broadly interested in understanding how reproductive hormones affect metabolic health and disease. In women, high estrogen suppresses energy intake and promotes energy expenditure. Low estrogen levels after menopause can result in weight gain that can be rescued by estrogen treatment. Our research aims to provide a mechanistic framework for how estrogen promotes metabolic health.

To understand the mechanisms by which estrogen alters metabolism, we focus on the following broad questions: How does the brain regulate energy intake and expenditure? How do metabolic neural circuits differ between males and females? How are they modulated by reproductive hormones?

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