An intricate system of neurons within our brains controls many of our basic physiological functions, such as eating, reproducing and sleeping. Although it is generally accepted that the body operates on a classic day-and-night schedule, scientists still don’t fully understand the molecular events behind the circadian regulation of basic physiological processes.
Dr. Denise Belsham, Canada Research Chair in Neuroendocrinology, is trying to shed light on these processes. She and her research team are studying how neuropeptide-expressing neurons sense their environment, communicate with each other, and respond. They hope to provide critical knowledge about the complex nature of integrated neuroendocrine control of basic physiology. Their work may also uncover new targets for intervention in situations where detrimental changes can lead to disorders, such as obesity.