How do hormones affect the brain and our ability to learn and remember? That’s the question that propels the research of Tulane neuroscientist Jill Daniel.
Research from Daniel’s lab has contributed to the understanding of mechanisms by which estrogens and androgens impact areas of the brain important for cognition. “I’m intrigued by the fact that these hormones, the primary function of which is to control reproduction, exert powerful effects throughout the brain including on areas involved in learning and memory,” Daniel says. “Our work aims to understand why and how this occurs.” Current work in the lab is focused on the impact of estrogens and androgens on the brain and cognition across the lifespan, from early in development during which they help organize our brains as male or female to later in life during which changes in their levels impact how our brains age. Daniel’s work is supported by awards from the National Institutes of Health.
Daniel is Director of the new Tulane Brain Institute, which was founded in 2016 and oversees neuroscience-related endeavors across all campuses of the University. The three pillars of the Brain Institute include research, education, and community outreach. The vision is to create a new era of discovery, learning, and public influence in brain sciences at Tulane and advance the Tulane Brain Institute to levels of national prominence.
Daniel, a New Orleans native, received her PhD from Tulane and explains that like many people from the New Orleans area, she has ties to Tulane that extend across generations. Her grandparents lived across the street from the old Tulane Stadium and she has early memories of helping her grandfather park cars in his driveway during Tulane football games. Among her many relatives that have attended Tulane was her great-aunt, the first woman in the family to attend college and a proud 1919 graduate of Newcomb College. All three of Daniel’s children are Tulane graduates. “Tulane is in my blood,” Daniel says. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to do the work that I love at this university that means so much to me.”
Daniel, J.M., Beck, K.D. (2017) Hormones and Memory. In: Eichenbaum, H. (ed.), Memory Systems, Vol. 3 of Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference, 2nd edition, Byrne, J.H. (ed.). pp. 445–462. Oxford: Academic Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.21091-2
Grissom, E.M. & Daniel, J.M. (2016). Evidence for ligand-independent activation of hippocampal estrogen receptor alpha by insulin-like growth factor-1 in hippocampus of ovariectomized rats. Endocrinology, 157(8): 3149-56. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27254005
Nelson, B.S., Black, K.L., & Daniel J.M. (2016). Circulating estradiol regulates brain-derived estradiol via actions at GnRH receptors to impact memory in ovariectomized rats. eNeuro, 3(6) pii: ENEURO.0321-16.2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28032117
Black, K.L., Witty, C.F., & Daniel J.M. (2016). Previous oestradiol treatment results in long-term maintenance of hippocampal oestrogen receptor α levels in ovariectomised rats: Mechanisms and implications for memory. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 28(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27603028
Bayless, D.W. & Daniel, J.M. (2015). Sex differences in myelin-associated protein levels within and density of projections between the orbital frontal cortex and dorsal striatum of adult rats: implications for inhibitory control. Neuroscience, 300: 286-296. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26002313