Stephanie Padilla, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biology. Her lab studies the neural basis of behavior and physiology using a combination of mouse and viral reagents. With targeted light delivery, her team can study how distinct neurons impact mouse behavior. Her research is focused on:1) Understanding how sex hormones impact behavioral decisions and emotional state and 2) Resolving the neural circuitry underlying sex differences in body weight regulation.
Dr. Padilla plans to develop a proposal to investigate the neural mechanisms of postpartum depression. In a recent study, her team found that estrogen-sensitive Kiss1 neurons in the hypothalamus can influence mood and motivational states in mice. Dr. Padilla aims to establish a circuit diagram to describe how Kiss1 neurons influence depression and anxiety in response to circulating estrogen and progesterone. This will provide potential targets for interventions to help alleviate postpartum depression in mothers.