Psychological stress is pervasive in all walks of life, and clearly plays a role in the etiology of many major psychiatric conditions. As such, the primary goal of my research is to determine how organisms respond and adapt to psychologically stressful events. To this end, we use animal models to examine three different aspects of responses to stress, including: (a) basic neuroendocrinology of stress, (b) stress effects on behavior, and (c) stress-immune interactions. Specifically, the neuroendocrine component of the laboratory focuses on long term adaptations that occur in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis following stress. The behavioral component of the laboratory seeks to determine the neural mechanisms underlying specific behavioral responses that occur as a result of stressor exposure. Finally, recent progress in the field suggests that exposure to stressors can activate some aspects of immunity, and thereby facilitate immune function. The neural mechanisms underlying these changes is the third area of inquiry in my laboratory. While these three areas are frequently treated as discrete topics of research, the neural mechanisms which govern stress-induced changes in behavior, neuroendocrine, and immune function appear to share a high degree of overlap. Thus, a cohesive picture of the inter-relatedness of these topics has begun to emerge in recent years. In order to address these issues,my laboratory employs a diverse range of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral measures to answer questions that are pertinent to the field of stress research.
Contact Terrence Deak, Science 4, Room 359.
Students in my laboratory have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the research, including experimental design, small animal surgery (both abdominal and stereotaxic), behavioral manipulations, and tissue harvesting. In addition, our laboratory routinely conducts a wide variety of biochemical procedures such as radioimmunoassays, ligand binding assays, western blotting, standard colorimetric assays and ELISAs, and some basic histological procedures. There is plenty of room for motivated students to conduct independent projects relevant to the interests of the lab.
Students must be sophomores or juniors, willing to attend weekly lab meetings, and dedicate approximately 6-12 hours per week towards lab work. While there are no formal course requirements, preference will be given to students who have completed physiological psychology, drugs and behavior, or other relevant coursework.
Last Updated: 5/27/10