SURF

Victoria Vo

Understanding Neuroendocrine Control of the LH Surge

All steps of female reproduction, including ovulation, fertilization, and pregnancy, rely on timed secretion of reproductive hormones. The release of hormones in our bodies coincide with our exposure to the natural light and dark cycle. In women with poor sleep hygiene and irregular work schedules, circadian desynchronization has been shown to negatively impact different stages of the reproductive cycle, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, decreased fertility, and increased miscarriage rates. Additionally, with the rise of modern technology, exposure to artificial light from laptops and phones at night poses an even more pronounced disruption to the circadian rhythm. In the Kriegsfeld lab we study how the brain’s master circadian clock (SCN) controls areas of the brain associated with reproduction. In my research project, with the guidance of my graduate student mentor, I aim to understand how specific SCN neurochemicals coordinate the activational state of kisspeptin and GnIH neurons to allow for the LH surge. Understanding how the circadian system controls reproductive hormones is critical for identifying potential therapeutic targets for treating infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, delayed puberty, and other gynecological disorders, and could be beneficial in developing more effective contraceptives.

Message to Sponsor

I would like to thank the SURF Rose Hills program for their generous funding of my research this summer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I didn't get to complete as much as I had originally planned; however, I still gained so much knowledge from working with my mentor, peers, and SURF advisors. Reading various research articles and preparing a powerpoint presentation for the virtual conference has helped me gain the confidence to better explain my research to others in common vernacular. Overall, participating in SURF has made me become a more resilient and well-rounded individual. I am very grateful for this amazing opportunity and to be a part of the SURF Rose Hills Experience Summer 2020 cohort.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Lance Kriegsfeld