About The Lab
The Spencer-Segal lab focuses on how systemic hormones modulate the neural circuitry controlling behaviors such as emotion, memory, and motivation. We seek to understand the role of specific hormones such as steroids and cytokines in the neural and behavioral response to physiological and psychological challenges, or stressors. How do hormones influence neural activity in important brain regions? How do changes in circulating hormones contribute to resilience and vulnerability to stress? Ultimately, our goal is to discover mechanisms that can be used to guide new brain- and endocrine-based treatments for patients suffering from stress-related disorders.
One particular area of research involves the investigation of the neurobiologic sequelae of sepsis. Sepsis is an acute, often fatal medical illness. Sepsis survivors face an uphill battle that often includes significant mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and cognitive dysfunction. Using a naturalistic mouse model of sepsis, the lab has characterized a post-sepsis syndrome in and is investigating relevant neuroendocrine mechanisms. We hope this work will yield treatments to help the millions of sepsis survivors suffering from mental health challenges.