I work mainly in the field of neuroendocrinology, more specifically brain development from the sex differentiation perspective. Simply, we are studying what makes men’s brain different from women’s brain. Such studies are very important as most psychiatric illnesses differ between man and women (incidence of illness, signs of illness, severity) and if we will understand how sex differences in the brain develop, we will have better understanding of how sex differences in disease develop and will be able to provide better care to people. Furthermore, sex differences are not present only in brain but in many other tissues like liver. Such sex differences could have important effects on our health and treatments (for example, it is now well known that many drugs are metabolised differently in male or female liver and have therefore different effects in men and women) and more studies are needed to understand all such differences between males and females.
We are also studying long term effects of stress. Although stress is beneficial for immediate survival of the individual, prolonged stress could have deleterious consequences for our health. More and more studies are also showing that exposure to stress during early life might have long lasting consequences for health. We are thus studying long term effects of stress during prenatal, postnatal or pubertal period in mice models. We are trying to determine how exposure to stress in these early vulnerable periods affects behaviour in adult life and susceptibility for different psychiatric illnesses and in all these studies we are also looking for different effects of stress on males and females.
My research group is studying development of sex differences in a special mice model, SF-1 knockout mice, which are born without gonads and are therefore never in their life exposed to sex hormones (testosterone or estradiol). This makes them unique as all differences between sexes have to be the consequences of action of genes on sex chromosomes, and not due to the exposure to different sex hormones (testosterone in normal males and estradiol in normal females). Our studies are focused in two directions—studying expression of genes in the brain, mainly in the area of hypothalamus and preoptic area, and looking at the behaviour of mice to see whether there are any differences between sexes in sex specific behaviours also in SF-1 knockout mice. We are doing these studies in collaboration with my good friend Stuart Tobet from Colorado state university in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, and we have an NIH (National institute of health) research grant for doing these studies.
In addition to that, we are also doing some studies on testis development and effects of endocrine disruptors on this development (what was the topic of my Ph.D. study in Edinburgh, Scotland).
Recently, we started to work on adult stem cells for cell therapy in dogs and horses. After successful treatment of more than 30 dogs with joint problems, we created a company Animacel for commercialization of this novel treatment method in veterinary medicine
Below are some pictures of our work on both brain and testes development and function.
If you would like to know more about my work you can drop me a note to my email.