Jeff Daniel Sanders, MD, PhD
Department of Psychiatry
Emory University School of Medicine
I am a board certified psychiatrist whose research has focused on neurodevelopment and how its study may inform our treatment of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence. My thesis, titled, “Noradrenergic Regulation of the Developing Brain”, resulted in many important insights into how norepinephrine guides brain development. This important research provided new insights into how the developing brain may respond to different antidepressant medications. I am currently interested in preclinical models for studying neural circuitry relevant to the common developmental presentation of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders often emerge in adolescence, with nearly one in three adolescents affected. Moreover, the majority of adults with anxiety disorders had these diagnoses in the adolescent period, attesting to their chronicity and common developmental origins. However, despite this morbidity, there are few effective treatment options for adolescent anxiety disorders. Since developing effective psychotropic medication for these conditions is clearly needed, understanding the neuropharmacology of developing fear circuitry is especially important. Oxytocin, for example, is a neuropeptide that signals through oxytocin receptors (Oxtr) to potentially play very different roles in modulating adolescent versus adult fear circuits To test this idea my research endeavors to study the developmental role of Oxtr in amygdala-dependent cued fear learning through the following experiments: 1) Study the postnatal ontogeny of Oxtr and their regulation during fear memory consolidation 2) Test the effects of short-term blockade or stimulation of CeA Oxtr on fear learning in developing vs. adult mice. 3) Test the effects of long-term elimination of CeA Oxtr on fear learning in developing vs. adult mice.