Veronica Kim

The Role of Two, Opposing RFamide Peptides in Female Reproductive Functioning

Normal female reproductive health requires the precise temporal coordination of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Disruptions to circadian rhythms have pronounced negative health consequences, including an increased incidence of heart disease, obesity, ulcers, and cancer. Most relevant to the present studies, women with disrupted circadian rhythms exhibit pronounced deficits in ovulation and fecundity. My project investigates the circadian control of two, opposing neuropeptides that act upstream of the reproductive axis, gonadotropin-inhibiting hormone (GnIH) and kisspeptin. Our lab has shown that both of these neuropeptidergic systems receive monosynaptic SCN input and that this mode communication is critical for ovulation. My study will use a combination of gene knockdown and overexpression strategies combined with pharmacology to elucidate the specific means by which the SCN balances the activity of these positive and negative regulators to initiate ovulation.

Message to Sponsor

Being chosen as a SURF fellow has given me the opportunity to apply the molecular biological tools that I have generated in the Kriegsfeld lab, since my freshman year, and apply them to my thesis work. This fellowship also allows me to play a more independent and extensive role in the lab, with a heightened involvement in project generation, running of the studies, problem solving, and data analysis. Without the additional stresses usually present during the academic school year, I can devote my full attention to working on projects of great interest to me and on furthering my education of the intellectual and logistical considerations in neuroendocrinology research.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: Pergo Fund
  • Mentor: Lance Kriegsfeld, Psychology