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Chronic stress induced adaptations in hypothalamic brain circuits

48 months
Approved budget:
Associate Professor Karl Iremonger
Health issue:
Neurological (CNS)
Proposal type:
Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship
Lay summary
Over the last 9 years, my research has focused on understanding how neurons and neural circuits function in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. I am particularly interested in determining how hypothalamic neurons control the stress response of the body. After exposure to chronic stress, neural circuits in the hypothalamus malfunction leading to persistently elevated levels of stress hormones. This enhanced release of stress hormones can damage the body and the brain, ultimately leading to metabolic, cardiovascular and neurological disorders. This current research project will determine what changes occur in hypothalamic neurons after chronic stress. I will analyse changes in neuron morphology as well as changes in electrical and chemical signalling in neurons before and after exposure to stress. The discoveries made during the course of this project will provide the basis for development of new therapies aimed at controlling stress hormone release.