Welcome to the Laboratory of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Endocrinology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The goal of our research is to understand how thyroid hormone affects brain development and to clearly delineate the consequences of thyroid dysfunction that occurs during development.
Our specific focus is on the developing brain. Early in fetal development, the cerebral cortex undergoes important developmental decisions that are conditioned by thyroid hormone, but the fetus is fully dependent upon the mother for a source of thyroid hormone. Our goals are to understand the molecular mechanisms of thyroid hormone action in the early cortex and to identify the specific developmental events that are under thyroid hormone direction. We also study thyroid hormone action in the early postnatal rodent brain. Here too, specific developmental events are directed by thyroid hormone by specific actions on gene expression. Considering the importance of thyroid hormone in brain development, any factor that affects maternal thyroid function, or thyroid hormone action, can potentially influence early brain development. Within out current projects we are investigating the effects of potential thyroid disrupters including PCBs, bisphenol A, and perchlorate, on thyroid hormone signaling in the developing brain.