Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
BA: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Ph.D: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Postdoc: Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore, MD
Chemicals in the environment that mimic endogenous hormones can profoundly affect organismal development. These small molecules, termed endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC), include insecticides, industrial chemicals and pharmaceutical products that are released or escape into the environment. Animals are especially sensitive to EDC exposure during critical periods of development, embryonic stages when organs and tissues are specified and formed. EDCs have been shown to affect the development and function of many organs including the brain and gonad.
Great strides have been made correlating chemical exposure with abnormal phenotypes, but identifying the molecular pathways that mediate such abnormalities has been an elusive goal. Recent advances in our understanding of genetic pathways that regulate development, however, are bringing this goal within reach. Using the zebrafish model system, it will be possible to identify how chemicals in an animal’s environment influence gene activity and affect development.
During my postdoctoral fellowship, I developed an innovative approach to monitor one class of EDCs, those that mimic estrogens, in live zebrafish embryos and larvae in multiple tissues at single cell resolution. Humans are exposed to EDCs throughout life and exposure has been linked to birth defects, cancers and autoimmune diseases. Therefore, it is imperative that we understand in which tissues EDCs act and their mechanisms of action.
1) identify the function of estrogen receptor alpha activity during heart valve development
2) develop tools to monitor androgen, progesterone and aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity in vivo and identify novel sites of activity during development
3) identify tissue-specific endocrine disrupting compounds from environmental samples and uncover their mechanism of action
4) determine to what extent estrogen signaling in the brain influences sexual differentiation of the gonad
Gorelick DA, Watson W, Halpern ME. Androgen receptor gene expression in the developing and adult zebrafish brain. Dev Dyn. 2008 237(10):2987-95.
Gorelick DA, Halpern ME. Visualization of estrogen receptor transcriptional activation in zebrafish. Endocrinology. 2011 152(7):2690-703.
Full Publication List:
To contact Dr. Gorelick:
1670 University Blvd
Birmingham, AL 35294-3300
Phone: (205) 934-4565
Fax: (205) 934-8240
School of Medicine Faculty Page: http://tinyurl.com/gorelicklab
Lab Web Page: http://gorelicklab.org