Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Campus Box 345
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0345
Professor Spencer received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology in 1986 from the University of Arizona. He was a recipient of an individual National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellowship and carried out his postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller University, where he continued on as an assistant professor from 1991-1993. He joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder as an assistant professor in 1994. He currently is a recipient of an NIH Independent Investigator Award (K02).
Dr. Spencer's research has focused on understanding the regulation of a neuroendocrine system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and how that system contributes to stress adaptation. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis controls the secretion of the glucocorticoid hormones (cortisol and corticosterone) and is activated by stress. Dr. Spencer's laboratory is currently studying mechanisms by which glucocorticoids affect the expression of certain stress responsive genes including "Clock Genes" in various brain regions that may be especially critical to an organism's ability to adapt to repeated stress. Dr. Spencer's research has also examined mechanisms of corticosteroid receptor regulation and glucocorticoid regulation of the immune system.
Dr. Spencer has co-authored over 70 research papers and his research program has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the McArthur Foundation.
Weiser, MJ, Osterlund, C, RL Spencer. Inhibitory effects of corticosterone in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) on stress-induced ACTH secretion and gene expression in the PVN and anterior pituitary. J Neuroendo, 23: 1231-1240, 2011.
Weinberg, MS, Johnson, DC, Bhatt, AP and RL Spencer. Medial prefrontal cortex activity can disrupt the expression of stress response habituation. Neuroscience 168:744-756, 2010.
Girotti, M, Weinberg, MS, and RL Spencer. Diurnal expression of functional and clock-related genes in the rat hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. System-wide shifts in response to a restricted feeding schedule. American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 296:888-897, 2009.
Weinberg, MS, Bhatt, AP, Girotti, M, Masini, CV, Day, HEW, Campeau, S and RL Spencer. Repeated ferret odor exposure induces different temporal patterns of same-stressor habituation and novel-stressor sensitization in both HPA-axis activity and forebrain c-fos expression in the rat. Endocrinology, 150:749-761, 2009.