Lab Research Interests

Dr. Vazquez's lab is interested in molecular brain mechanisms underlying long-term consequences of stress in growing organisms. We focus on the LHPA, the growth hormone axis and brain serotonin systems. As part of her interest on psychosocial stressors and behavioral alterations, Vazquez's lab has begun to study key brain areas which are part of two systems: the corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) brain system and the serotonin system in normally developing rats and rats subjected to maternal deprivation. We also studies these systems in rats subjected to steroid exposure during the first week of life. The tapering steroid injection model mimicks what is typically done in neonatal intensive care units across the nation. At the clinical level, Dr.Vazquez studies children with PSD. She also studies women who are at risk for depression (as a model of prenatal stress) and their infants once they are born. To tie in the animal experiments with her interest on PSD, she has characterized animal models of chronic stress in pre-weanling and weanling rats which results in significant growth retardation and behaviors consistent with anxiety. The elucidation of the neurobiology of these models is one of the goals of the Dr.Vazquez's lab.

There are six major research projects in our lab:
Stress Response and Growth: Impact of Early Life Stress
Postnatal Stress: HPA axis and Vulnerability to Drug Use 
Developmental Origins of Endocrine Dysfunctions
Depression Risk, Infant-Mother Attachment and Cortisol  
Perinatal Experience and Children's Mental Health 
Effects of Glucocorticoid Exposure During First Week of Life - Impact of Maternal Care on Stress Reactivity and Behavior 

Current and Past Research Supported by:

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), RO1 “Stress Response and Growth: Impact of Early Life Stress" PI: DM Vazquez

Office of Naval Research, “Discovering the Molecular Basis of Differences in Emotional Reactivity: Gene Profiling Across the Developmental Trajectory of High and Low Responder Rats” PI: H Akil

National Institute of Child Development
Office of Naval Research

National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Postnatal Stress: HPA axis and Vulnerability to Drug Use” PI: DM Vazquez

National Institute of Drug Addiction
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, "Developmental Origins of Endocrine Dysfunctions" PI: DM Vazquez National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institute of Mental Health
  • Early Experience, Stress Neurobiology and Prevention Science PI: M Gunnar
  • Depression Risk, Infant-Mother Attachment and Cortisol, PI: DM Vazquez
  • Molecular Elements, Neurocircuits and Mental Illness, PI: SJ Watson
  • Development of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Study Impact of Adverse Fetal and Neonatal Experience on Child and Adolescent Mental Health PI: DM Vazquez
  • National Institute of Mental HealthNational Institute of Mental Health

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