Toxicology Seminar Series: Deborah Kurrasch, PhD, Thursday, April 5th

During our Toxicology & Environmental Health Seminar scheduled for this Thursday, April 5th-    -from 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in LSRC room A158, on Duke’s West CampusDeborah M Kurrasch, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Calgary, will be presenting a talk entitled The mechanistic effects of bisphenols on brain development in zebrafish and mice.” Please see below for her talk abstract and bio.
Previously, we showed that zebrafish exposed to the plasticizer bisphenol A (BPA) during early brain development demonstrated precocious neurogenesis and a shift in the timing of neuronal birth specifically within the hypothalamus. Given that BPA is thought to act via sex steroid receptors, these results suggest that hormone signaling might play an unappreciated role in deciding progenitor behavior. Thus, we decided to study the endogenous role of hormones themselves in neural progenitors, as an entry point to assessing the adverse effects of EDCs. To do so, we created an in vitro neurosphere assay whereby hypothalamic neural stem cells are isolated from E12.5 mouse brains and grown in culture. We can treat these neurospheres with exogenous sex steroids (estradiol and testosterone, primarily) as well as EDCs, and study their effects on proliferation and differentiation. Our preliminary data shows that these hormones indeed influence hypothalamic progenitors and is consistent with our hypothesis that EDCs can interfere with normal brain development by disrupting hormone signaling in these cells. At the same time, we have expanded our BPA studies to mice and have recently demonstrated that in utero exposure to low dose BPA also disrupts neurogenesis that results in lasting behavioral effects.
Deborah M Kurrasch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Calgary and a Scientist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Dr Kurrasch’s research is focused on characterizing the genetic programs that govern hypothalamic development using both mice and zebrafish as model organisms. More recently, the Kurrasch laboratory has become interested in understanding how exposure to environmental challenges (e.g. maternal obesity, inflammation, and chemicals) in utero become translated into changes in brain cytoarchitecture, especially within the hypothalamus. Her recent work has focused on how exposure to environmental contaminants such as bisphenol A affects brain development. Dr Kurrasch is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, among other private foundations, and she currently is the Lead PI on a large, multi-center grant funded by Brain Canada.  Dr Kurrasch received her PhD in Molecular Pharmacology from Purdue University and conducted two postdoctoral fellowships, one at the University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and one at the University of California – San Francisco.