Dr. Sonntag received his PhD in Physiological Psychology from Tulane University where he studied with Dr. Arnold Gerall and conducted his dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Schally and his colleague, Dr. Akira Arimura. After his graduate training, he received a National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroendocrinology to study with Dr. Joseph Meites, a prominent neuroendocrinologist at Michigan State University. In 1984 he received an appointment at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC where, for 23 years, he served on the faculty of the Department of Physiology/Pharmacology, Scientific Director for Basic Science Research at the Roena Kulynch Center for Memory and Cognition Research and Scientific Director of the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging. His accomplishments include the publication of more than 200 original manuscripts, development of medical and graduate school curriculum for physiology, neuroscience and aging, past-chair of the Biological Sciences Section of the Gerontological Society, as well as service on a variety of NIH advisory committees, editorial boards and study sections. As of January 1, 2016, he is the Editor-In-Chief of The Journal of the American Aging Association [AGE]
In 2007, Dr. Sonntag was recruited to University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to be the founding Director of the Reynolds Oklahoma Center on Aging. He is Professor and the Donald W. Reynolds Chair of Aging Research in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at the Health Sciences Center. Under his guidance, the center on aging has grown to 6 endowed faculty members and over 20 research scientists.
Dr. Sonntag's specific research interest is the interaction between the endocrine, vascular and the central nervous system that leads to mild cognitive impairment and specifically vascular cognitive impairment. Over the past three decades, he has devoted his scientific efforts to determine the mechanisms through which growth hormone and IGF-1 affect age-related changes in the brain (specializing in memory and cognition) and the mechanisms for cognitive impairment that occur in response to whole brain radiation (a common treatment for metastatic brain cancer). He has developed a national and international reputation related to studies of aging, in general, and specifically interactions between circulating factors, the vasculature and the brain. His record of publications in conjunction with mentoring numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty is evidence of his dedication to advancing the field of aging research, thereby contributing to better health for the elderly.