Cyr Lab Research: The Cyr lab is broadly interested in the neuroendocrine basis of obesity. Within this program, we have two major projects both of which focus on understanding changes in metabolic neurohormones during obesity and how the pathways involved could be targeted for weight loss drugs. In one line of investigation, studies aim to elucidate the effect of obesity-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the brain on the appetite-suppressing hormone alpha-MSH. We are interested in how ER stress alters the production of the precursor protein POMC as well as POMC processing into the bioactive alpha-MSH. The other line of investigation aims to determine how the nutrient sensing enzyme Sirtuin 1 regulates major neuroendocrine axes such as the thyroid and stress axes. These projects extend to investigating central leptin and insulin resistance in obesity. For example, our work and others indicate that both alleviating ER stress and inhibiting Sirtuin 1 in an obese rodent can enhance insulin and leptin sensitivity. As another extension of this work, we are also interested in whether aspects of the neuroendocrine stress axis can predict future conditions such as depression (chronic stress), obesity, and Type II Diabetes.
In the classroom, I teach courses in Neuroscience and Endocrinology as well as Biology and Anatomy & Physiology Labs. For Neuroscience and Endocrinology, students learn from biomedical and comparative studies. Students also learn from problem-based learning activities. In lab, students learn anatomy and perform physiology experiments using techniques like western blotting. In the Neuroscience Learning Community, I teach topics centered around Neuroscience issues that affect children. In addition, Stonehill Neuroscience students volunteer at the HOPe House, a facility on the Stonehill campus that provides care for children with neurodevelopmental illness. I also lead Stonehill Students in a “Neuroscience for kids” component for which the Stonehill students create and execute Neuroscience lesson plans and activities for local elementary and middle school children.