Robert Sapolsky

July 11, 2009

Robert Sapolsky received his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University. His laboratory focuses on three issues: a) how a neuron dies during aging or following various neurological insults; b) how such neuron death can be accelerated by stress; c) the design of gene therapy strategies to protect endangered neurons from neurological disease.

The Sapolsky laboratory was among the first to document that sustained stress can damage the hippocampus, a region of the brain central to learning and memory. Their work has pinpointed glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormones secreted from the adrenal gland during stress, as critical to such neurotoxicity. Moreover, they were the first to demonstrate that glucocorticoids will impair the capacity of hippocampal neurons to survive a variety of neurological diseases, including stroke and seizure. A major focus of the laboratory is to examine the cellular and molecular events underlying hippocampal neuron death, and to identify the components of such death worsened by glucocorticoids.

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