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Winter 2002

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How hormones really work

     Skidmore biologist Marc Tetel has received a $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health and its Office of Research on Women’s Health to research hormone functions in the brain.

     The ovarian hormones estradiol and progesterone are known to act in the brain to affect mood and behavior. And intracellular hormone receptors are known to influence this process, though the details aren’t well understood.

     Recently a class of proteins has been identified that serve as “coactivators” for hormone receptors. These proteins have been studied in vitro, but little is known about how they function in living, working brains. Tetel’s work, using lab mice, focuses on three of these coactivators and aims to determine their roles in activating behavior-related genes and regulating reproductive and other behaviors.

     Such studies, says Tetel, may also aid medical research, as these proteins are implicated in Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (a form of mental retardation) and hormone-related diseases like breast cancer.

     Tetel has a student helping with the research this semester, and he plans to collaborate with a student over the summer as well. He says his neuro-endocrinology course provides a foundation in work related to the project, so his student collaborators can hit the ground running as soon as they enter the lab.

     Tetel holds a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He joined Skidmore’s biology faculty, and the new neurosciences program, this fall. —SR

 


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