Our lab utilizes zebrafish as a vertebrate model organism to investigate development and function of several clusters of neurons that reside in the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic neurons regulate fundamental body functions including sleep, blood pressure, temperature, hunger and metabolism, thirst and satiety, stress and social behavior.
We study mechanisms of development that contribute to the formation of hypothalamic circuits starting from early cell fate decisions through later morphogenic processes that shape the neuro-anatomy of the hypothalamus. We also examine how genetic determinants of developmental processes affect the physiological function of the mature hypothalamus.
Understanding these processes is especially important as developmental impairments of hypothalamic neuronal circuits are associated with neurological disorders that disrupt both physiological and psychological homeostasis.