Cheryl Wotus receives $50,000 grant from Murdock Trust

May 11, 2011

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Cheryl Wotus, assistant professor of biology, has been awarded a $50,275 grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust for a project titled “Circadian Regulation of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Responsivity.”

Up to four Seattle University students will be supported by this two-year grant for a summer research experience mentored by Wotus. With her students, Wotus will study the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, also known as the stress axis, and a system which is critical for survival.  Glucocortcoids also exhibit a near twenty four hour circadian rhythm that is essential for normal daily physiological functions. Wotus’s preliminary data support the hypothesis that the rhythm is controlled by two independent pathways from the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain.  She plans to further investigate how the two pathways regulate glucocorticoid release.  Her work will contribute importantly to understanding the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulation in general and could have potential implications for disorders characterized by circadian desynchronization, such as depression. 

Participating students will be directly involved in the research by learning and practicing the techniques needed, including sample collections, microscopic investigation of tissues and assays of relevant immunohistochemistry.