NICOLE PETERS

Graduate Student

I am interested in how the gut microbiota communicates with the brain, through the gut-brain axis, to control the expression of anxiety and social behaviors.  I am interested in the mechanisms underlying this communication pathway and how microbiota may influence neuropeptide expression in the brain. To investigate this, I am using two mouse models--germ-free mice, mice that do not have any microbiota, and toll-like receptor 5 knockout mice, that have chronic intestinal inflammation and an altered gut microbiota composition.  I am finding that oxytocin and vasopressin, neuropeptides heavily involved in the expression of social and anxiety-like behaviors, are altered in both models and correlate with changes in their behavior. I am interested in determining the exact pathway underlying these changes to the brain and behavior, both in the completion of my dissertation work and further on in my career.  In my free time, I like to do yoga, try different craft beers, play board games and D&D, and binge watch TV on Netflix.

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