Megan Holmes

Personal Chair of Molecular Neurodenocrinology

  • Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Contact details



Queens Medical Research Institute
Edinburgh Bioquarter
47 Little France Crescent

Post code
EH16 4TJ

Current research interests

The hormonal response to stress is crucial for survival, yet chronic stress can lead to increased susceptibility to both cardiometabolic disease, as well as psychiatric and memory disorders. My research has focussed on the regulation of the normal response to stress through the hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis (Good Stress) and how this is can become dysregulated to cause disease (Bad Stress). My main focus has been on the effect of stress or high glucocorticoids (cortisol in man or cortisosterone in rodents, as well as synthetic steroids such as dexamethasone) during vulnerable developmental periods (prenatal or postnatal) to ‘programme’ life-long changes in affective behaviour and memory and understand the mechanisms that underpin these effects. Such mechanistic studies allow development of novel therapies to alleviate or reverse the adverse consequences of the stress hormones. Other interests include the underestimated importance of the brain in the regulation of blood pressure and salt appetite, and the consequences of stress particularly in development on the trajectory of cognitive decline with age. A major component of our work involves the use of targeted rodent models, that have been developed in our laboratory. We also have developed state-of-the–art high resolution, in vivo imaging paradigms to provide non invasive functional imaging of behavioural responding animals using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and monitor feto-placental development (particularly of umbilical vessels and fetal heart) by high resolution ultrasound.

View all 82 publications on Research Explorer