Research

Our lab is broadly interested in understanding how reproductive hormones affect temperature and energy balance. In women, 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 weight gain and hot flashes in postmenopausal women.

To understand the mechanisms by which estrogen alters the homeostasis, we focus on the following broad questions: How does the brain regulate temperature and energy balance? How do homeostatic neural circuits differ between males and females? How are homeostatic circuits modulated by estrogens?

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).