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Robert J. Handa, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
Dr. Robert Handa - Send email to rhanda@email.arizona.edu

Robert J. Handa, Ph.D., (PI of Project 3), is a Professor of Basic Medical Sciences at University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, and neurobiologist with extensive training in neuroendocrinology, neurochemistry, immunochemistry, and neuroanatomy. He is an internationally-recognized expert in studying steroid hormone receptors and their role in forming the biological bases for sex differences in brain structure and function, particularly regarding the stress axis. His studies first demonstrated the expression of multiple forms of estrogen receptor beta in the mammalian brain.

Recent data from his laboratory show that androgens inhibit the neuroendocrine response (hormone secretion and neuropeptide synthesis) to physical and psychological stressors, whereas estrogen augments the response. The cloning of a novel, beta form of estrogen receptor, which is present in brain regions functionally relevant to neuroendocrine regulation may provide further insight into the mechanisms by which steroid hormones regulate stress responses. These studies are particularly relevant to previously reported sex differences in stress hormone secretion since the dysregulation of stress hormone secretion that accompanies behavior disorders such as depression and the fluctuations in gonadal hormones that occur throughout life including decreases with the normal aging process. His recent studies have identified a metabolite of the androgen, dihydrotestosterone as a critical regulator of stress responsiveness and anxiety related behaviors in the male. These studies are defining the varied strategies adopted by males and females to cope with stressors that can alter behavior and deleteriously affect reproduction.

Representative Publications:

Lund, TD., Rovis, T, Chung, WCJ., Handa, RJ. (2005) Novel Actions of Estrogen Receptor Beta on Anxiety-Related Behaviors. Endocrinology. 146(2):797-807

Suzuki, S. and Handa, R.J. (2005) Estrogen receptor (ER)-b, but not ER-a is expressed in prolactin containing neurons of the female rat paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei: a comparison with other neuropeptides. J Comp Neurol. 484(1):28-42

Lund, TD., Hinds, LR, Handa, RJ. (2006) 5a-dihydrotestosterone and its metabolite, 5a-androstan-3b, 17b-diol inhibit the hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal response to stress by acting through estrogen receptor beta expressing neurons in the hypothalamus. J. Neurosci. 2006;26 1448-1456

Sandau, US, Handa, RJ. (2007) Glucocorticoids exacerbate hypoxia-induced expression of the pro-apoptotic gene Bnip3 in the developing cortex. Neuroscience 144(2):482-494.

Pak, TR., Chung, WCJ, Hinds, LR, Handa, RJ. (2007) Estrogen receptor-beta mediates DHT-induced stimulation of the arginine vasopressin promoter in neuronal cells. Endocrinology 148:3371-3382.

Foradori, CD, Werner, SM., Sandau, Hinds, LR., Handa, RJ. (2007) Activation of the androgen receptor alters the intracellular calcium response to glutamate in primary hippocampal neurons and modulates sarco/endoplamic reticulum ATPase 2. Neuroscience. 149:155-164

Foradori, CD, Lund, TD, Nagahara, AH, Koenig, JI, Handa, RJ. (2007) Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone heterogeneous nuclear RNA (hnRNA) and Immunoreactivity is induced in Novel Brain Sites Following Kainate-Elicited Seizures and is altered by Estrogen. Brain Res. 1164:44-54.

Chung, WCJ, Pak TR, Suzuki S, Pouliot, WA, Handa RJ. (2007) Detection and Localization of an estrogen receptor beta splice variant (ERb2) protein in the adult rat brain. J Comp Neurol. 505(3):249-267

Weiser, MJ, Foradori, CD, Handa, RJ. (2007) Estrogen Receptor Beta in Brain: From form to function. Brain Res Rev. 2007 Jun 26; [Epub ahead of print]

Publications by Dr. Handa