Areas of Expertise
Neuroendocrinology, Neuropharmacology, Neurobiology of Stress and Epigenetics
PhD, Emory University
Professional Publications & Contributions
Richard Hunter is fundamentally interested in how stressful or traumatic life events alter not only the course of our lives but the very structure and function of our brains as well. Why do many, if not most, humans and animals recover quickly from trauma and why do others go on to suffer life long impairments like depression and post traumatic stress disorder? Why does environmental stress cause some to age more rapidly than others?
To answer these questions, Hunter utilizes a number of rodent models of stress and analyzes the impact of these stress models both on behavior and upon molecular and cellular changes in the nervous system. In particular he is interested in the changes in epigenetic marks and molecules occurring in stress sensitive brain regions like the hippocampus. He has recently shown that one of these marks, Histone H3 lysine 9 trimethyl, a repressive mark, is involved in a genomic stabilizing response within the hippocampus that is targeted at transposable elements within the genome. These elements, which comprise an order of magnitude larger portion of the genome than the genes themselves, are an almost completely unexplored territory with regard to brain function in health or in disease. However, they hold the promise of new understanding of the way the brain adapts, or fails to adapt, to stressful environments.
Psych 250: Learning and Memory
Psych 476: Experimental Methods Physiological