Catherine S. Woolley Professor, William Deering Chair in Biological Sciences, Neurobiology

Research Interests

Our research focuses on steroid regulation of synaptic structure and function and the consequences of steroid-driven synaptic modulation for behavior.  Most of our work is on the hippocampus, a brain region important in learning and memory, epilepsy, and in affective behaviors like anxiety and depression.  We use a range of approaches in our studies including molecular biology, biochemistry, light and electron microscopy, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, microdialysis, and behavioral assays. 

Two ideas driving current work in the lab are: 1) that estrogens are produced not only in periphery as hormones but also directly within the brain as neurosteroids that rapidly modulate synaptic function and behavior in both sexes, and 2) that some mechanisms of synaptic modulation in non-reproductive parts of the brain differ between the sexes, which is important for understanding how experience or interventions, such as drugs, affect males and females differently.

Selected Publications

Acute inhibition of neurosteroid estrogen synthesis suppresses status epilepticus in an animal model. Sato SM and Woolley CS. eLife. 2016 April 15;5:e12917.

Sex Differences in Molecular Signaling at Inhibitory Synapses in the Hippocampus. Tabatadze N, Huang G, May RM, Jain A, and Woolley CS. Journal of Neuroscience. 2015 August 12;35(32):11252-11265.

Quantitative Analysis of Long-Form Aromatase mRNA in the Male and Female Rat Brain. Tabatadze N, Sato SM, and Woolley CS. PLoS ONE. 2014 July 18;9(7):e100628.

Distribution and Posttranslational Modification of Synaptic ERα in the Adult Female Rat Hippocampus. Tabatadze N, Smejkalova T, and Woolley CS. Endocrinology. 2013 February 1;154(2):819-830.

Estradiol Acutely Suppresses Inhibition in the Hippocampus through a Sex-Specific Endocannabinoid and mGluR-Dependent Mechanism. Huang GZ and Woolley CS. Neuron. 2012 June 7;74(5):801-808.

View all publications by Catherine S. Woolley listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed).