Research in the Cullinan Lab

Research in my laboratory is directed at understanding the neurobiology of stress and the link between stress and psychiatric illness. The ability to cope with changing internal or external environmental demands (i.e. stress) is known to involve the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Stress-mediating neural inputs converge upon a final common pathway, the origin of which is known to be the CRH-containing neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Activation of these neurons results in a cascade of events culminating in the release of adrenal corticosteroids. Chronic elevated corticosteroid levels have been linked to illnesses such as major depression.

Recent efforts in our lab have focused on: 1) defining neurotransmitter-specific sources of input to the CRH-containing PVN neurons, 2) characterization of brain pathways which mediate corticosteroid feedback inhibition of the stress response, 3) understanding the regulation of key molecules within defined stress-related pathways following chronic stress conditions, which are characterized by elevated basal and stress-induced corticosteroid levels, d) understanding dysregulation of the HPA axis following traumatic brain injury, and e) effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in a model of depressive illness. Integrated technical approaches are taken to these issues, including combinations of neuroantomical tract-tracing methods, immumocytochemical and hybridization histochemical techniques, in vivo pharmacology, as well as biochemical, behavioral, molecular biological, and molecular surgical approaches.

Selected Publications


BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES

Schroeder Complex

Contact Biomedical Sciences

Department of Biomedical Sciences
College of Health Sciences
Schroeder Complex, 426
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881

Phone: (414) 288-7251
Fax: (414) 288-6564