Jeffrey TaskerJeffrey Tasker, PhD

Tulane University School of Science and Engineering
Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Catherine and Hunter Pierson Chair in Neuroscience
Director, Tulane Neuroscience Program

Neurophysiology of neuroendocrine systems controlling fluid and energy

homeostasis, stress, and reproductive function


Jeffrey Tasker received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the University of Bordeaux Faculty of Sciences, Bordeaux, France, and his postdoctoral training in the Department of Physiology, Tulane University in 1986-87 and the Mental Retardation Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles from 1987 to 1991. He was recruited to the Tulane University Department of Cell and Molecular Biology as an Assistant Professor in 1991, where he currently holds the position of Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Program. He has authored over 60 publications to date on the cellular mechanisms of synaptic and hormonal regulation of neuroendocrine systems, and the neural circuit and synaptic plasticity involved in stress disorders. He has been continuously funded by federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, for 20 years. He has served on editorial boards of international journals and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the International Brain Research Organization, and the American Society of Neuroendocrinology.

Ongoing research projects related to stress and energy balance

Understanding the hypothalamic regulation of energy homeostasis is central to understanding the roots of obesity and diabetes. The hypothalamus coordinates energy and fluid homeostasis and reproductive function via its neuroendocrine control of the pituitary gland and its descending neural control of sympathetic and parasympathetic outflow. It serves as a command center for the physiological response to stress, and pathological alterations in hypothalamic circuitry and synaptic signaling lead to stress and anxiety disorders, such as depression and feeding disorders, and contributes to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. We are investigating the electrical, synaptic and hormonal mechanisms responsible for generating and coordinating neuroendocrine outputs that control energy and fluid balance, and how these mechanisms change under conditions of acute and chronic stress. We study the plasticity of synaptic circuits and the neurotransmitter and hormone regulation of hypothalamic neuroendocrine cells using brain slice patch-clamp electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, Western blot, and molecular methods. Research in my lab is focused on the following areas of investigation:

Ongoing projects include:

  1. Stress, depression and the brain – studies on the hypothalamic and amygdalar circuits and synaptic physiology responsible for the stress response, and the cellular/molecular mechanisms of hormonal feedback regulation of central stress circuits.
  2. Hypothalamic control of feeding – studies on the physiological mechanisms responsible for the effects of peptide and steroid hormones on feeding behaviors and the interactions between stress and energy homeostasis via endocannabinoid release.
  3. Integrative control of fluid and energy homeostasis – studies on the synaptic and hormonal mechanisms responsible for integrating energy state and osmotic state via ghrelin actions in antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin)-secreting cells of the hypothalamus.
  4. Mechanisms of hypothalamic synaptic plasticity – studies on activity-induced plasticity in hypothalamic neuronal-glial morphology and neuronal electrical properties and the impact on neuronal excitability and hypothalamic hormone secretion.

Lab Members

Shi Di, PhD - Research Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Ion Razvan Popescu - Research Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Zhiying Jiang - Ph.D. Student, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Chun Chen - Ph.D. Student, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Jamie White - Ph.D. Student, Neuroscience Program

Other Links

Tulane Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
Tulane Neuroscience Program


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