Graduate Studies Faculty

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Virginia L. Brooks, Ph.D.

Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology
Admin Unit: SOM-Physiology & Pharmacology Department
Phone: (503) 494-5843
Lab Phone: (503) 494-5841
Fax: (503) 494-4352
Office: 3588 BScA
Mail Code: L-334
Physiology & Pharmacology
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Research Interests:
blood pressure, sympathetic nervous system, brain, hypertension, pregnancy, baroreflex, angiotensin, insulin, osmolality, systems » PubMed Listing
Preceptor Rotations
Dr. Brooks has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Brooks has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.

Summary of Current Research

The research of our laboratory focuses on interactions between hormones and the autonomic nervous system in health and disease. One project investigates long-term control of sympathetic outflow, in particular, in the context of salt-sensitive hypertension. How sympathetic activity is chronically regulated is not completely understood, and our hypothesis is that changes in peptide hormones and other circulating factors, such as angiotensin, aldosterone and salt concentration, are critical components of this control system. A second project investigates how blood pressure regulation is altered during pregnancy. We have found that pregnancy markedly attenuates function of the baroreceptor reflex and the autonomic response to hemorrhage. Our recent studies suggest that this impairment is mediated by the insulin resistance that accompanies pregnancy. Current studies are directed towards an understanding of how insulin resistance can impair brain control of the sympathetic nervous system. Because these projects involve interactions of the cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems, many studies are carried out using conscious, chronically instrumented rats. Animals are chronically instrumented to allow recordings of sympathetic nerves, blood flow and pressure, and to infuse into the blood supply of the brain. In anesthetized rats, specific brain regions important in control of the sympathetic nervous system (rostral ventrolateral medulla, paraventricular nucleus, nucleus tractus solitarius) are probed by microinjections of neurotransmitters and their antagonists. Immunocytochemical, molecular biological and cell culture techniques are frequently used as well, to assess long-term changes in brain control of the sympathetic nervous system.


  • B.S. 1972, Oakland University
  • Ph.D. 1978, University of Michigan

Non-Academic Interests