Dr. Denver is a developmental neuroendocrinologist. He received his BS degree from Rutgers University, and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. The questions that he addresses in his research include: How do nuclear hormone receptors regulate gene expression in the developing brain? What are the roles of long range chromosomal interactions, enhancer transcription and DNA methylation in nuclear hormone receptor function? How do stress hormones (glucocorticoids) generate epigenetic modifications during early development, leading to long term, stable changes in physiology and behavior (a.k.a., developmental programming)? How can animals modify their development in response to environmental change, and what consequences do these developmental responses (a.k.a., developmental plasticity) have for an individual’s survival and fecundity, and for phenotypic evolution?
In his research he uses several model systems, including Xenopus tadpoles, wild amphibian species, mice and neuronal cell lines. Current focus is on four primary topics: (1) molecular mechanisms of nuclear hormone receptor action in neurons, (2) epigenetic programming of neural gene expression by glucocorticoids during early postembryonic development (molecular basis for developmental plasticity), (3) role of DNA methylation in thyroid hormone action and developmental gene regulation in the central nervous system, and (4) evolution of leptin structure and function, and roles for leptin in postembryonic brain development and the timing of major life history transitions (i.e., metamorphosis, puberty).