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UCSF

ObGyn&RS

Center for Reproductive Sciences

Synthia Mellon, PhD
Contact Information
Mailing Address: 513 Parnassus Ave, Box 0556
San Francisco, CA 94143-0132
Academic Phone: 415/476-5329
Academic Fax: 415/502-7866
Research/Clinical Interests

Our laboratory studies the regulation of steroid hormone synthesis, by analyzing the transcriptional regulation of the steroidogenic enzymes, and the mechanism of action of steroids in both steroidogenic tissues and in the nervous system, where we identified the developmental and regional expression of steroidogenic enzymes and some novel actions of steroids on neuronal function. Steroid hormones are regulators of a multitude of physiologic processes, and act primarily by activating nuclear receptors, which are transcriptional regulators of various genes. However in the nervous system, where we found steroidogenic enzymes and synthesis of a novel class of steroid, called neurosteroids, neurosteroids modulate ion flux through the ion gated GABA A and NMDA receptors, and regulation of their synthesis results in changes in behavior, learning, and memory.

We delineated the ontogeny and sites of steroidogenic enzyme expression , and showed that neurosteroids affect neuronal development by specifically modulating either axonal or dendritic growth and neuronal differentiation.Their actions throughout life may maintain the integrity of neural connections, and demise of neurosteroid synthesis may result in loss of memory associated with some age-related neurologic diseases. Our studies thus rely on a number of different experimental paradigms, from molecular biologic analysis of gene structure and transcription factors to developmental and cell biology of neuronal development and function.

Education/Training
Year Institution & Location Degree Field of Study
1975 Rutger College, New Jersey B.A. Biochemistry
1975 Columbia University, New York M.A. Biochemistry
1979 Columbia University, New York M.Phil Biochemistry
1979 Columbia University, New York Ph.D. Biochemistry
Achievements & Recognition
Year Major Honors
1975 Phi Beta Kappa
1974-75 Henry Rutgers Scholar in Biochemistry, Rutgers University, Cum Laude, distinction in Biochemistry
1991 Richard E. Weitzman Memorial Award from The Endocrine Society for outstanding young investigator
2004 -06 President, Women in Endocrinology
2006 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science