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Graduate Neuroscience Program


Donal Skinner





The pars tuberalis subdivision of the pituitary gland is an enigma. It has the highest expression of melatonin binding sites in the mammal and current hypotheses suggest that this area plays a central role in transducing the photoperiodic melatonin signal to seasonal hormone release. We have recently discovered that the pars tuberalis contains a significant population of tachykinin-immunoreactive cells. We and others have found that tachykinins can affect prolactin secretion. Using the hypophyseal portal approach, we are investining in vivo tachykinin release and how these peptides may regulate prolactin secretion.

Although GnRH is a critical component of the hypothalamo-pituitary-reproductive axis, we and others have determined that GnRH receptors are expressed in multiple loci in the brain that are outside this axis as well as in sites outside the brain. Recent evidence from our laboratory indicates that the heart is a novel self-contained GnRH producing and responsive target.


Personal Biography

I received my PhD from the University of Cambridge, England in 1994, following a BS in Zoology and Computer Science from Rhodes University in South Africa. After post-doctoral fellowships at Cambridge and INRA in France, I was appointed to an Assistant Professorship at the Vet school at the University of Bristol before relocating to the University of Wyoming in 2002. My research during the past 20 years has focused on the seasonal mechanisms driving hormone secretion and, most recently, on the roles of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) outside the neuroendocrine reproductive axis. Although initially a sheep researcher, my loyalty has strayed and much of my current research utilizes rodent models.



Dr. Skinner is a member of the Society of Neuroscience, British Neuroendocrine Society and the Society for Reproduction and Fertility. He is an editorial board member of Neuroendocrinology, Journal of Endocrinology, and Reproduction.

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