Stephen C. Gammie
213 Zoology Research Building

Phone: 608.262.3457


Genetic and Neural Analysis of Maternal Behavior

    My research focuses on understanding the genetic and neural basis of maternal care. In mammals, the transition from a non-maternal to a maternal state involves a number of changes in the central nervous system (CNS) that support the emergence of maternal care. A suite of new behaviors emerge in new mothers, including nursing, offspring grooming, and offspring protection. The current work of the lab focusses on particular brain regions, including lateral septum (LS), and aims to understand how gene and protein expression changes in those regions relate to emotional and behavioral changes in the postpartum period. While changes in the CNS of mothers are critical to support offspring care, it can also leave mothers vulnerable to mental health disorders, including depression. Thus, understanding postpartum neural changes can provide insights into new treatments and interventions. We are evaluating a wide range of genes, including GABA A receptors, adrenergic receptors, GAD1, and GAD2. We are also evaluating less studied genes, including Fabp7. Researchers in my lab will be given the opportunity to participate in on-going studies and/or initiate independent projects.

    The general approach in the laboratory is to use multiple levels of analysis to gain insights into how genes and the CNS control the maternal state. The techniques used in the lab include Western blotting, behavioral testing, immunohistochemistry, and analysis of gene expression in subregions of the brain using gene arrays and real-time quantitative PCR.

    The lab also has a separate line of work evaluating a novel mouse model for mania. Bipolar disorder (BPD) is a debilitating mental health disorder that includes both mania and depression. We have found a mouse line that exhibits mania-like traits and responds to typical anti-BPD treatments. In hippocampus, a region strongly linked to BPD, the mice also exhibit dysregulated gene expression with a high homology to human BPD at a multigene level. Further, with hippocampus array results, we identified 14 chromosome regions (hotspots) in MSN mice with dysregulated expression and each of these corresponds via shared synteny with human regions linked with BPD in genome wide studies.

Drawings by Bill Feeny, Zoology Department Artist, University of Wisconsin


Undergraduate: I received a B.A. in both English Literature and German from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.

Graduate:  I conducted my Ph.D work with Dr. James W. Truman in the Department of Zoology (now Biology) in conjunction with the Graduate Program in Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.

Postdoctoral:  I completed my postdoctoral work with  Dr. Randy J. Nelson  at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Randy has relocated to The Ohio State University.

Contact Information

Phone: 608.262.3457
Fax: 608.262.9083
Address: 1117 West Johnson St., Zoology Research Building, Room 213, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI  53706

    Prospective graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should send me a letter or E-mail of inquiry including areas of interest and relevant experience. Prospective graduate students can gain access to my lab through either the Department of Zoology (Madison) or Neuroscience Training Program (Madison) at the University of Wisconsin.

Current graduate students:

Terri Driessen
Brian Eisinger
Michael Saul

Current postdoctoral fellows:

Changjui Zhao     

Recently graduated Ph.D. students:

Justin S. Rhodes, Ph.D. - Zoology. 2002
Nina S. Hasen, Ph.D.- Zoology. 2007

Kimberly D’Anna, Ph.D.- Zoology. 2008
Grace Lee, Ph.D.- Zoology. 2009

Avery & Jack

Selected Publications

Zhao C, Driessen TM, Gammie SC (2012). Glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 and 67 expression in the lateral septum is up-regulated in association with the postpartum period in mice. Brain Research (in press)

Saul MC, Gessay GM, Gammie SC (2012). A new mouse model for mania shares genetic correlates with human bipolar disorder. Public Library of Science ONE 7:e38128

Zhao C, Saul CM, Driessen TM, Gammie SC (2012). Gene expression changes in the septum: possible implications for microRNAs in sculpting the maternal brain. Public Library of Science ONE (in press)

Gammie SC, Lee G, Scotti MA, Stevenson SA, Gessay GM (2011). Neurotensin induced Egr-1 activity is altered in postpartum mice. Brain Research 1433:47-55

Scotti ML, Lee G, Stevenson SA, Ostromecki AM, Wied TJ, Kula DJ, Gessay GM, Gammie SC (2011). Behavioral and pharmacological assessment of a potential new mouse model for mania. Physiology and Behavior 103:376-383.

Scotti ML, Stevenson SA, Gammie SC (2011). Changes in CNS response to neurotensin accompany the postpartum period in mice. Hormones and Behavior 60:177-184.

Gammie SC, D’Anna KL, Gerstein H, Stevenson SA (2009). Neurotensin inversely modulates maternal aggression. Neuroscience, 158:1215-23.

D’Anna KL, Gammie SC (2009). Activation of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 in lateral septum negatively regulates maternal defense. Behavioral Neuroscience, 123:356-68.

Gammie SC, Seasholtz AF, Stevenson SA (2008). Deletion of corticotropin-releasing factor binding protein selectively impairs maternal, but not intermale aggression. Neuroscience, 157:502-512.

D’Anna KL, Gammie SC (2008). Maternal profiling of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 deficient mice in association with restraint stress. Brain Research, 1241:110-21.

Gammie SC, Edelmann MN, Mandel-Brehm C, D’Anna KL, Auger AP, Stevenson SA (2008). Altered dopamine signaling in naturally occurring maternal neglect. Public Library of Science ONE, 1:e1974. (open access)

Gammie SC, Auger AP, Jessen HM, Vanzo RJ, Awad TA, Stevenson SA (2007). Altered gene expression in mice selected for high maternal aggression. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 6:432-43.(open access)

Lee G, Gammie SC (2007). GABA enhancement of maternal defense in mice: possible neural correlates. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 86:176-87. (open access)

Gammie SC, Bethea ED, Stevenson SA (2007). Altered maternal profiles in corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1 deficient mice. BMC Neuroscience, 8:17. (open access)

D’Anna KD, Gammie SC (2006). Hypocretin-1 dose-dependently modulates maternal behaviour in mice. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 18:553-566. (open access)

Gammie SC, Stevenson SA (2006). Effects of daily and acute restraint stress during lactation on maternal aggression and behavior in mice. Stress, 9:171-180. (open access)

Hasen, NS, Gammie SC (2006). Maternal aggression: new insights from Egr-1. Brain Research, 1108:147-156.

Gammie SC, Garland T, Stevenson SA (2006). Artificial selection for increased maternal defense behavior in mice. Behavior Genetics, 36:713-722. (open access)

Gammie SC, Stevenson SA (2006). Intermale aggression in corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1 deficient mice. Behavioural Brain Research, 171:63-69. (open access)

Gammie SC (2005). Current models and future directions for understanding the neural circuitries of maternal behaviors in rodents. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 4:119-135.

Gammie SC, Hasen NS Awad TA, Auger AP, Jessen HM, Panksepp JB, Bronikowski AM (2005). Gene array profiling of large hypothalamic CNS regions in lactating and randomly cycling virgin mice. Brain Research. Molecular Brain Research, 139:201-211. (open access)

D’Anna KL, Stevenson SA, Gammie SC (2005). Urocortin 1 and 3 impair maternal maternal defense behavior in mice. Behavioral Neuroscience, 119:1061-1071.

Friske JE, Gammie SC (2005). Environmental enrichment alters plus maze, but not maternal defense performance in mice. Physiology and Behavior, 85:187-194.

Hasen NS, Gammie SC (2005). Differential fos activation in virgin and lactating mice in response to an intruder. Physiology and Behavior, 84:681-695.

Gammie SC, Hasen NS, Stevenson SA, Bale TL, D’Anna KL (2005). Elevated stress sensitivity in corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 deficient mice decreases maternal, but not intermale aggression. Behavioural Brain Research, 160:169-177.

Rhodes JS, Gammie SC, Garland T (2005). Neurobiology of mice selected for high voluntary wheel-running activity. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 45:438-455.

Gammie SC, Nelson RJ (2005). High maternal aggression in dwarf hamsters (Phodopus campbelli and P. sungorus). Aggressive Behavior, 31:294-302.

Smith GT, Allen AR, Oestreich J, Gammie SC (2005). L-citrulline immunoreactivity reveals nitric oxide production in the electromotor and electrosensory systems of the weakly electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus. Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, 65:1-13.

Gammie SC, Lonstein JS (2005). Maternal aggression. In: Biology of Aggression. R. J. Nelson (editor). Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Bronikowski AM, Rhodes JS, Garland T, Prolla T, Awad T, Gammie SC (2004). The evolution of gene expression in the hippocampus in response to selection for increased locomotor activity. Evolution, 58:2079-2086.

Gammie SC, Negron A, Newman SM, Rhodes JS (2004). Corticotropin-releasing factor inhibits maternal aggression in mice. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118:805-814.

Espana RA, Berridge CW, Gammie SC (2004). Diurnal levels of Fos immunoreactivity are elevated within hypocretin neurons in lactating mice. Peptides, 25:1927-1934.

Gammie SC, Hasen NS, Rhodes JS, Girard I, Garland T (2003). Predatory aggression, but not maternal or intermale aggression, is associated with high voluntary wheel-running behavior in mice. Hormones and Behavior, 44:209-221.

Rhodes JS, Garland T, Gammie SC (2003). Patterns of brain activity associated with variation in voluntary wheel-running behavior. Behavioral Neuroscience, 117:1243-1256.

Lonstein JS, Gammie SC (2002). Sensory, hormonal, and neural control of maternal aggression in laboratory rodents. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 26:869-888.

Gammie SC, Nelson RJ (2001). cFOS and pCREB activation and maternal aggression in mice. Brain Research, 898:232-241.

Gammie SC, Nelson RJ (2000). Maternal and mating-induced aggression is associated with an elevation of citrulline immunoreactivity in the paraventricular nucleus in prairie voles. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 418:182-192.

Gammie SC, Huang PL, Nelson RJ (2000). Maternal aggression in endothelial nitric oxide synthase-deficient mice. Hormones and Behavior, 38:13-20.

Gammie SC, Olaghere-da Silva UB, Nelson RJ (2000). 3-Bromo-7-nitroindazole, a neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, impairs maternal aggression and citrulline immunoreactivity in prairie voles. Brain Research, 870:80-86.

Gammie SC, Dawson VL, Nelson RJ (2000). Influence of nitric oxide on neuroendocrine function and behavior. In Nitric Oxide. L. J. Ignarro (editor), pp 429-438. San Diego, Academic Press.

Gammie SC, Nelson RJ (1999). Maternal aggression is reduced in neuronal nitric oxide synthase-deficient mice. Journal of Neuroscience, 19:8027-8035. (open access)

Demas GE, Kriegsfeld LJ, Blackshaw S, Huang PL, Gammie SC, Nelson RJ, Snyder SH (1999). Elimination of aggressive behavior in male mice lacking endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Journal of Neuroscience, 19:RC30 (open access)

Gammie SC, Truman  JW (1999). Eclosion hormone provides a link between ecdysis triggering hormone and crustacean cardioactive peptide in the neuroendocrine cascade that controls ecdysis behaviour. Journal of Experimental Biology, 202:343-352. (open access)

Gammie SC, Truman JW (1997). Neuropeptide hierarchies and the activation of sequential motor behaviors in the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta. Journal of Neuroscience, 17:4389-4397. (open access)

Gammie SC, Truman JW (1997). An endogenous elevation of cGMP increases the excitability of identified insect neurosecretory cells. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 180:329-338.

Ewer J, Gammie SC, Truman JW (1997). Control of insect ecdysis by a positive-feedback endocrine system: roles of eclosion hormone and ecdysis triggering hormone. Journal of Experimental Biology, 200:869-881. (open access)

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