Young Ambassador’s Program

Invited Speakers with the Young Ambassador’s Program

Dr. Michelle BELLINGHAM, University of Glasgow, UK

Maternal Exposure to Low-Level Chemical Mixtures: Consequences on the Offspring Neuroendocrine System


Dr. Julie BAKKER, University of Liège Belgium


Dr. Paolo GIACOBINI, University of Lille, France

Extra-Gonadal Roles of Anti-Mullerian Hormone in the Regulation of CnRH Neuronal Fun

I am a basic scientist focused on neurodevelopmental events leading to the correct maturation and function of the mammalian reproductive axis. I obtained my Ph.D Degree in Neuroscience  in 2005 at the University of Turin, Italy. This was a graduate partnership program between the University of Turin, Italy (Supervisor: Prof. Aldo Fasolo) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda, USA (Supervisor: Dr. Susan Wray), where I spent several years during my PhD and Post-Doctoral formation. Since 2009 I am a research scientist and group leader at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Lille, France.

Dr. Åsa PETERSEN, Lund University, Sweden

Hypothalamic Changes in Huntington Disease

Åsa Petersén received her PhD in Experimental Neuroscience in 2001 and her MD in 2005 at the Medical Faculty at Lund University, Sweden. She started her research group Translational Neuroendocrine Research Unit at Lund University in 2007. Petersén has combined her research positions with a clinical residency in psychiatry and now holds a combined position as Professor of Neuroscience at Lund University and Senior Consultant in Psychiatry. She has published around 90 research articles, reviews, book chapters and commentaries.

Petersén’s research is focused on the neurodegenerative and monogenic Huntington disease (HD), which has previously been considered a movement disorder with selective basal ganglia pathology. It is now well known that HD patients manifest with early non-motor features such as psychiatric symptoms, sleep problems and metabolic alterations. Petersén’s hypothesis is that hypothalamic dysfunction is involved in causing the early non-motor features of HD. She has published pioneering studies showing loss of orexin (hypocretin) and oxytoxin in the hypothalamus of patients and animal models of HD. Her studies have identified early hypothalamic changes in MR images from prodromal HD as well as alterations in key emotion and metabolism regulating genes in postmortem human HD hypothalami. Her exciting findings of the key role of the disease-causing mutant huntingtin protein in the hypothalamus for the development of depressive-like features accompanying metabolic dysfunction in HD mice have further opened up for important experiments dissecting out the critical neuronal networks involved.

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