We study the interaction of drugs, hormones and environmental factors with the developing organism, with particular emphasis on the fetal and neonatal nervous system. The role of biochemical factors mediating development of nerve cells and other types of tissue is a major thrust, since they influence the subsequent structural and physiological status of critical organ systems. Ongoing projects comprise five areas: (1) Mechanisms regulating development of synapses - role of endocrine and other trophic factors, intracellular messengers in developing cells, control of target organ differentiation by neural input; (2) Adverse effects of exogenous agents on development, with an emphasis on identification of mechanisms by which behavioral or physiological damage occurs - drugs of abuse (especially nicotine), hormonal imbalances, environmental contaminants (especially pesticides), food additives, intrauterine growth retardation, fetal and neonatal hypoxia; (3) Control of fetal and neonatal cardiovascular and respiratory function by the immature nervous system - normal physiological mechanisms, responses to stress, factors mediating the transition from fetal to neonatal function, reactivity during delivery, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; (4) Breast cancer cell growth regulation - role of hormone and neurotransmitter receptors converging on common cell signaling mechanisms, and targeting of these receptors for cancer therapeutics.
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University of Rochester ·