Erich Ottem

Associate Professor

Contact Information:

2109 Weston Hall
Phone (906) 227-1072


  • B.S., Biology (1997) Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience (2004) Neuroscience and Behavior Program, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (2004-2007) Neuroscience Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Research Interests:

The primary research focus of my laboratory deals with the interaction of androgens, neurotrophic factors, and excitatory neural signaling in the spinal cord to maintain the structure and function of motorneurons and neuromuscular junctions. Of special interest is determining the roles that the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and androgen play in the maintenance of the extensive dendritic arborization of motorneurons, the regulation of excitatory synaptic signaling they receive, and the preservation of the neuromuscular junction.

A secondary focus of my laboratory is delineating the roles that gonadal steroids play in the anatomy and physiological functioning of sexually dimorphic nuclei in the endocrine hypothalamus.  Specially, our laboratory is interested in the influence these hormones have over the regulation of excitatory glutamatergic and inhibitory GABAergic neuronal populations found in these regions.


  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Human Physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Endocrinology
  • Neuroendocrinology

Selected Publications:

  • Ottem, E.N, Bailey, D.J., Jordan, C.L. and Breedlove, S.M. (2013) With a Little Help from My Friends: Androgens tap BDNF pathways to alter neural circuits. Neuroscience, 239: 124-138.
  • Ottem, E.N, Poort, J.E., Wang, H-B. Jordan, C.L., and Breedlove, S.M. (2010) Differential expression and ​regulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA isoforms in androgen-sensitive motoneurons ​of the rat lumbar spinal cord. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 328: 40-46.
  • Ottem, E.N., Beck, L.A., Jordan, C.L., and Breedlove, S.M. (2007) Androgen-dependent regulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and tyrosine kinase B in the motoneurons of the spinal nucleus of the bulbocavernosus. Endocrinology, 148:3655-3665.
  • Ottem E.N., Zuloaga D.G., and Breedlove S.M. (2004) Brain Gender: prostaglandins have their say. Nature Neuroscience, 7: 570-572.
  • Ottem, E.N., Godwin, J.G., Krishnan, S., and Petersen, S.L. (2004) Dual-phenotype GABA/Glutamate neurons in the adult preoptic area: Sexual dimorphism and function. Journal of Neuroscience, 24: 8097-8105
  • Petersen, S.L., Ottem, E.N., and Carpenter, C.D. (2003) Direct and indirect regulation of GnRH neurons by estradiol. Biology of Reproduction. 69: 1771-1778.
  • Ottem, E.N., Godwin, J.G. and Petersen, S.L. (2002) Glutamatergic signaling through the N-methyl-Daspartate receptor directly activates medial subpopulations of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) neurons, but does not appear to mediate the effects of estradiol on LHRH gene expression. Endocrinology, 143:4837-4845.
Erich portrait