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Young Ambassadors’ Symposium

Invited Speakers with the Young Ambassadors’ Symposium

Keynote Lecture

Dr. Paolo GIACOBINI, University of Lille, France

Extra-Gonadal Roles of Anti-Mullerian Hormone in the Regulation of GnRH Neuronal Function

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.

Symposium – Novel Technologies and Ideas to Study Neuroendocrinolgoy

Dr. Michelle BELLINGHAM, University of Glasgow, UK

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

Dr. Michelle Bellingham is a lecturer in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow (since 2012).  She received her PhD in Physiology in 2004 from Glasgow Caledonian University and completed a post-doctoral project in the Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammation, before joining Prof Neil Evans group as a post-doc in the Division of Cell Sciences at the University of Glasgow in 2007. For the past 10 years the focus of her research has been on determining the effects, and understanding the risks, of maternal exposure to low-level chemical mixtures on long-term offspring health where she has used both sheep and human models.  Her work integrates behavioural, hormonal, molecular biology and ‘omics approaches to understand the risks of environmental chemical exposure on mammalian physiology and she has widely published the effects of maternal exposure to ‘real-life’ mixtures of chemicals (using sheep exposed to sludge-treated pastures) on offspring physiological systems, including effects on hypothalamic neurotransmitter systems, pituitary cell populations and changes in adult reproductive physiology. Her research also focuses on the effects of human exposures during pregnancy, including the effects of maternal smoking, on programming adverse fetal development and long term health consequences in later life (in collaboration with Prof Paul Fowler, University of Aberdeen).

Dr. Joan MORRELL, Rutgers University-Rutgers, USA

Impact of Gender on the Behavioural Processes and Neurobiological Substrates of Motivation for Voluntary Activity


Dr. Julie BAKKER, University of Liège Belgium

The Role of Sex Hormones vs Chromosomes in the Sexual Differentiation of the Human Brain

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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