Wellcome Trust grant for stress hormones study
18 November 2009
Professor Stafford Lightman and Dr Becky Conway-Campbell have been awarded a major Programme Grant from the Wellcome Trust for a five-year study of stress hormones.
The aim of the project, entitled ‘Pattern Dependent Specificity of Glucocorticoid Signalling’, is to define how different patterns of stress hormones can affect genes in the brain and in the liver, and how these patterns can affect memory and the development of metabolic disease such as diabetes mellitus.
Professor Lightman said of the study:
‘Stress hormones are released in discrete packages with pulses of secretion occurring approximately hourly. The importance of these oscillating levels of the stress hormones cortisol and corticosterone are unknown. We believe they provide a digital mechanism of signalling that allows the tissues of the body to respond in a rapid and optimal manner to changes in their environment and to various forms of stress.
‘This grant will allow us to investigate how these different patterns of hormone release regulate gene function in the brain and liver and how they can alter mechanisms both of memory and the control of blood sugar levels. We hope that understanding these responses will provide important information for the development of much improved forms of steroid treatment which will increase their effectiveness and decrease their side effects.’