Aditi Bhargava, PhD

Director of Laboratory Research
Department of Ob/Gyn and the Center for Reproductive Sciences
+1 415 476-3336
Research Overview: 

The overarching goal of my research is to understand the sex-specific molecular and cellular actions of the stress hormones and their receptors that operate in health and disease. Stressors, whether perceived, physical, or environmental are pervasive in our lives. An estimated 57 million people in the United States – twice as many women as men – suffer from stress-related disorders, including anxiety, depression, Type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, pain, infertility, and gastrointestinal disorders. Cellular stress can alter the metabolic state; it also sends signals to pathogens that may otherwise lie dormant or latent, to get activated and cause disease. Metabolic changes caused by sleep disturbances are sex specific and explain PTSD severity in patients, as our latest research has demonstrated.

While it is recognized that sex differences exist in etiology and symptoms for many diseases that range from psychological to cardiovascular, many new drugs fail in clinical trials for these indications, as they do not show efficacy in one or the other sex. This is because risk factors and genetic factors that predispose men and women to the same disease differ. To better understand sex differences in health, it is key to differentiate between the contribution of gonadal (sex) hormones and sex chromosome (X or Y) complement. 

Our experimental approaches are designed to investigate the molecular basis for stress-related disorders in an integrated manner using animal models of human diseases, tissues obtained from patients, cell, and molecular biology approaches (such as mRNA technology), and bioinformatics. Our efforts are also focused on understanding how mRNAs therapeutics, such as those in the vaccines work in the cells. Our major effort is now to ascertain vaccine safety and mental health status by surveying people’s response to vaccine efficacy and safety (PROVES) in an unbiased manner. 

Primary Thematic Area: 
Tissue / Organ Biology & Endocrinology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Research Summary: 
Gut-brain cross-talk: mediation by stress hormone system


Featured Publications: 

Sex Differences in the Exocrine Pancreas and Associated Diseases

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol

Wang M, Gorelick F, Bhargava A.

Effects of stress-related peptides on chloride secretion in the mouse proximal colon.

Neurogastroenterology and motility : the official journal of the European Gastrointestinal Motility Society

Liu S, Karo A, Agterberg S, Hua H, Bhargava A

Human Placenta Buffers the Fetus from Adverse Effects of Perceived Maternal Stress.


Vuppaladhadiam L, Lager J, Fiehn O, Weiss S, Chesney M, Hasdemir B, Bhargava A

Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) is a novel receptor for apolipoprotein A4 (APOA4) in adipose tissue.

Scientific reports

Qu J, Fourman S, Fitzgerald M, Liu M, Nair S, Oses-Prieto J, Burlingame A, Morris JH, Davidson WS, Tso P, Bhargava A