The neuroendocrinology research unit consists of three different laboratories sharing a common interest in analyzing the role of hormones in the development of the brain and behavior in relation to reproductive processes, such as the sexual differentiation of the brain and behavior, the onset of puberty and brain plasticity.
The aim of our research is to identify:
- the neuronal circuits controlling reproductive behavior in vertebrates
- the neuroendocrine and neurochemical mechanisms involved in the activation and the sexual differentiation of the brain and reproductive behavior
- the role of steroid hormones in the control of the central nervous system plasticity during ontogeny and adulthood.
- the mechanisms underlying the onset of puberty
- the impact of endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDC) on puberty onset and hippocampal neurogenesis
- The Bakker Lab uses transgenic mouse models for mechanistic studies to the sexual differentiation of the brain as well as for studying the neural circuits underlying reproduction, including behavior. They also apply neuroimaging techniques (functional and structural MRI) and postmortem analyses of patients with disorders of sexual differentiation (DSD) or suffering from gender dysphoria (GD) to translate and validate findings obtained in animal models.
- The Cornil Lab (formerly Balthazart Lab) uses avian models, the Japanese quail and canari mainly, as well as mouse models to identify the neuroendocrine and neurochemical mechanisms involved in the activation and the sexual differentiation of the brain and reproductive behavior with a special interest in the metabolism of sex steroids in the brain using quail and mice as models and the role played by sex steroids in the plasticity of the central nervous system during ontogeny as well as in adulthood mainly using quail and songbirds as animal models
- The Parent/Bourguignon Lab uses rodent models in order to decipher the hypothalamic control of puberty. They study the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on neurogenesis in the hippocampus and on the hypothalamic control of puberty in rodent models. They also aim at identifying early placental epigenetic markers of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in humans and rodents.