Eric Krause, Ph.D.

Georgia State University
Recruited: 2023

Eric Krause explores mysteries involving the body’s responses to stress, specifically, how the brain and the peripheral nervous system coordinate these responses, both in behavior and physiology. His research has brought a more precise view of what happens inside the brain mechanistically when it experiences stress, and how that impacts metabolism, the cardiovascular system and other aspects of the body’s function.

Because stress is a major predictor of heart attacks and other negative cardiovascular (CV) events, Krause’s research seeks to identify new targets for therapies to reduce stress — and as a result, lessen its harmful impact on the CV system.

Before joining Georgia State in August 2023, Krause led the Center for Integrative Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease at the University of Florida for 5 years. The center explores the cause, prevention and treatment of a range of (often preventable) diseases involving the CV system, such as hypertension, obesity and heart disease. Under his leadership, the center evolved into a more multidisciplinary enterprise, engaging scientists in many disciplines and spanning basic to clinical research.

Krause’s research at Florida was funded by four different branches of the NIH as well as other sources. One branch, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, designated him a recipient of the Emerging Investigator Award, a status that provides funding for a large body of work rather than single projects. The designation provides Krause with the flexibility to embrace risk in his efforts to break new ground in the field.

The hormone angiotensin II has been one focus of his investigation. Increased angiotensin II is known to cause hypertension and heart disease by acting on the kidneys and blood vessels; however, several studies from Krause’s laboratory discovered that angiotensin II also acts in the brain to cause anxiety and elevate the levels of stress hormones that circulate in the body. In this way, the research revealed how angiotensin II may converge on the brain and body to promote comorbid mental health and cardiovascular disorders.   

Oxytocin is another hormone that the Krause laboratory investigates.  Because of its role in social behavior and the formation of social bonds, oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone.”  Studies from the Krause lab identified an area of the brain that processes rewards and motivation, and subsequently, examined how oxytocin influences the circuitry in this area when a person experiences pleasure. He discovered that oxytocin activates two kinds of neurons in this part of the brain, dopamine and glutamate neurons, which factor into motivation and learning, respectively. 

More recently, the laboratory identified that oxytocin acts on neurons that relay the status of the heart and gut to the brain. Using advanced technical approaches, they discovered that selectively activating these neurons potently lowers blood pressure and suppresses feeding. Their results lay the groundwork for experimental therapeutics that target these oxytocin-sensitive neurons to relieve hypertension and obesity.    

In conducting his research, Krause blends conventional tools with novel techniques. One is optogenetics, which uses light to control certain activities in cells and neurons to promote study. Another is a microscopy technique to gain information about cells by seeing and measuring how much calcium they have.

At Georgia State, Krause plays a fundamental role in the Center for Neuroinflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases, an interdisciplinary enterprise that works to deepen understanding of diseases tied to inflammation inside the brain and spinal cord as well as the cardiovascular system.

Krause earned an M.S. degree in biological psychology and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Florida State University. He also holds a B.A degree in psychology from Hiram College in Ohio.

 Eric  Krause, Ph.D.