The Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology Section has expertise in the development and regulation of GnRH neurons, cells essential for reproduction. Developmentally, GnRH neurons originate outside the CNS, in the nasal placode, and thereafter migrate into the brain. As they migrate, these cells mature. Once within the brain, GnRH neurons become integral components of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis and exhibit pulses of GnRH secretion that are necessary for reproductive function. Disruption of the GnRH system results in idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH), a disorder that is characterized by delayed puberty and infertility.
Our ability to systematically manipulate the molecular and cellular biology of the GnRH system opens the route to understanding critical neurobiological issues such as phenotypic commitment, lineage and mechanisms involved in neuronal migration and craniofacial development. Translational collaborations focus on delineating the role of genes identified in IHH patients and subsequent changes induced by the mutation. In addition, the mechanisms regulating GnRH neuronal synchronization, as well as peptide secretion are examined to decipher the cellular characteristics underlying the dynamics of this highly regulated system.
Dr. Susan Wray received her B.A. degree from Middlebury College and her M.S, and Ph.D. degrees from University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry where she worked on development of neuroendocrine systems associated with puberty. She continued her work on neuroendocrine systems as a postdoctoral fellow with Harold Gainer in NICHD.
In 1992 she became a faculty member of NINDS as a Unit Chief in the Laboratory of Neurochemistry and in 1999 became Chief of the newly created Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology Section. She has served as a council member of the International Society of Neuroendocrinology, was a founding member of the American Neuroendocrine Society and is presently a council member for the Pan American Neuroendocrine Society.
Dr. Wray has trained over 30 postdoctoral fellows. CDNS also has a strong training program for college, post-college students and graduate students. Dr. Wray's laboratory is studying developmental cues underlying neuronal migration, and neurogenesis as well as the regulation of neuroendocrine cells essential for reproduction. Collaborations with clinical programs examine mutations in patients with delayed puberty and/or infertility.