Michelle Naugle

Michelle Naugle

Michelle Naugle

Ph.D. candidate, Institute for Neuroscience


I joined Dr. Gore’s lab in the spring of 2008. I am investigating the mechanisms underlying the menopausal transition. My thesis work is based on the observation that the aging brain does not respond to hormones in the same manner as young brains. I hypothesize that this is due to changes in the regulation of GnRH neurons (the ‘master control’ of the reproduction system). I predict that alterations in the distribution of hormone receptors and the physical environment around GnRH neurons are involved in these changes. My research consists of 3 projects in which I aim to answer the question: Why do older hypothalami respond to hormones differently than the young? I am exploring the differences between aged and young animals that received either estrogen or vehicle treatments.

My first goal is to quantify number of cells that express estrogen and progesterone receptors in 2 regions responsible for the indirect estrogen modulation of GnRH neurons. Differences found between the animal groups will provide possible mechanisms for the varied responses to sex steroid hormones.
My second goal is to determine whether GPER, a novel G protein-coupled estrogen receptor, is expressed on the GnRH neurons. This may provide a mechanism for direct feedback of E2 on to GnRH neurons, challenging the dogma that estrogen regulated GnRH via indirect pathways only.

My third goal is to characterize the microenvironment in the median eminence, the region where GnRH and other hypothalamic releasing hormones are secreted. I will also describe subcellular colocalization of GPER and GnRH. This may provide a mechanism that underlies the endocrine changes observed aged animals.

While earning my undergraduate degree, I studied serotonergic modulation of the central pattern generator (CPG) responsible for the escape swim behavior of the mollusk Tritonia diomedea in Dr. Paul Katz’s lab. The techniques I used include electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, and confocal microscopy. I also worked on a computer model of the CPG using the programming language Neuron.

Before entering the neuroscience graduate program at UT, I earned a B.S. in Biology with concentration in neuroscience and behavior and a minor in Chemistry. I graduated Magna cum laude, from Georgia State University in December of 2006.  I spent 3 years studying electrical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology before transferring to Georgia State. I tutored students in chemistry, biology, physics, JAVA and statistics and also worked as a teacher’s assistant in chemistry and digital design lab classes. I worked in the service industry for many years, which enabled me to pay for school.


  • Naugle M, Guarraci F, Yin W, Gore A. Ultrastructural Properties of the Median Eminence are Altered During Reproductive Aging in the Female Rhesus Macaque. (2011). The Endocrine Society Conference
  • Naugle M, Nguyen L, Merceron T, Gore A. Stereologic Analysis of Progesterone Receptor in the Hypothalamus of Female Rhesus Macaques and Its Regulation by Aging and Estrogen. (2011) The Endocrine Society Conference & (2011) Institute for Neuroscience Symposium
  • Walker D, Shalk A, Tillekeratne S, Yoon J, Dihn N, Taing D, Riha P, Kermath A, Naugle M, Gore A. (2010). Transgenerationsal Effects of Estrogenic Endocrine Dispruptors on Embryonic Development. Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.

Howard Hughes Biotechnology Fellowship   Georgia State University August 2006