Catherine Woolley William Deering Professor

Research Summary

Our research focuses on steroid regulation of synaptic structure and function and the consequences of steroid-driven synaptic modulation for behavior.  Most of our work is on the hippocampus, a brain region important in learning and memory, epilepsy, and in affective behaviors like anxiety and depression.  We use a range of approaches in our studies including molecular biology, biochemistry, light and electron microscopy, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, microdialysis, and behavioral assays. 

Two ideas driving current work in the lab are: 1) that estrogens are produced not only in periphery as hormones but also directly within the brain as neurosteoids that rapidly modulate synaptic function and behavior, and 2) that some mechanisms of synaptic modulation in non-reproductive parts of the brain differ between the sexes, which is important for understanding how experience or interventions, such as drugs, affect males and females differently.

Selected Publications

Selected Honors/Awards

  • 2013  William Deering Chair in Biological Sciences, Northwestern University
  • 2011  Special Lecture, Society for Neuroscience
  • 2007-09  Pioneer Award, Northwestern University Women’s Health Research Institute
  • 2007  C.J. Herrick Award, American Association of Anatomists
  • 2004-05  Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll
  • 2003  Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 2002-07  W.M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar in Medical Research Award
  • 2000  Cajal Club Cortical Explorer Prize
  • 1998-99  Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship
  • 1997  American Epilepsy Society Junior Investigator Award
  • 1996-97  Epilepsy Foundation of America Research Fellowship
  • 1994-95  Individual NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship, NS 09787
  • 1988-92  ARCS Research Scholarship at Rockefeller University
  • 1987  First Prize, Undergraduate Honors Thesis, Texas A&M University

Centers/Institutes