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Investigators & Projects

Listed in alphabetical order

Anton, Eva, PhD

Associate Professor, Cell & Molecular Physiology

Research Interests

Cerebral cortical development, Biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders

Projects

Mapping of Neuronal Placement in the Developing Cerebral Cortex
Radial Glial Development and Differentiation

Baranek, Grace, PhD

Professor, Division of Occupational Science of Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

Early identification/diagnosis of children with autism, fragile X syndrome and related developmental disabilities; impact of sensory processing disruptions on play skills and social engagement; early intervention; occupational therapy interventions.

Projects

Sensory Experiences in Children with Autism

Belger, Aysenil, PhD

Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Electrophysiological abnormalities in young autistic children and individuals at high risk for schizophrenia, functional magnetic resonance imaging

Projects

Neurobiology of stress and oxytocin intervention in the prodrome of schizophrenia

Boyd, Brian, PhD

Assistant Professor, Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

Development and evaluation of behavioral interventions; Repetitive and sensory-related behaviors of individuals with autism

Projects

Advancing Social-communication & Play (ASAP): An Intervention Program for Preschoolers with Autism

Brown, Lauren Turner, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Early identification and intervention for children with Autism.

Projects

Efficacy of The Home TEACCHing Program for Toddlers with Autism

Daniels, Julie, PhD

Assistant Professor, EpidemiologyAssociate Professor, Maternal and Child Health

Research Interests

Prenatal events and exposures that might lead to autism or developmental disability

Projects

NC CADDRE: Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) Phase II
North Carolina Austims and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Project

Dichter, Gabriel, PhD

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

1) fMRI and psychophysiology of reward processing in autism spectrum disorders; 2) fMRI and psychophysiology of treatment response in autism spectrum disorders; 3) Reward processing in individuals with current and past unipolar depression and risk for future depressive episodes

Projects

Neural Correlates of Reward in Autism
Functional Neuroimaging of Psychopharmacologic Intervention for Autism
Restricted Repetitive Behaviors in Autism

Gilmore, John, MD

Distinguished Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Imaging early childhood brain development

Projects

Early Brain Development in Twins
Fetal Programming of the Newborn and Infant Human Brain

Gray, Steven, PhD

Research Associate, Gene Therapy Center

Research Interests

Projects

Investigation of Gene Therapy Approaches for the Treatment of Giant Axonal Neuropathy
Global Gene Transfer for the Treatment of Batten Disease
Krabbe Translational Research Network (KTRN) Therapy for Krabbe Disease

Grewen, Karen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Impact of drug use during pregnancy on central and peripheral oxytocin and stress reactivity mechanisms and mother –infant bonding in both postpartum women and their neonates.

Projects

Perinatal Nicotine and Auditory Evoked Potentials in Early Infancy
Neurobiological and Behavioral Consequences of Cocaine Use in Mother-Infant Dyads: Project 2

Hazlett, Heather, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Brain development, neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism, fragile X, down syndrome)

Projects

A Longitudinal MRI Study of Infants at Risk for Autism (ACE Network)
A Longitudinal MRI Study of Brain Development in Fragile X Syndrome
fcMRI in Infants at High Risk for Autism

Jarstfer, Michael, PhD

Associate Professor, Pharmacy

Research Interests

Synthetic chemistry, molecular biology, and combinatorial chemistry techniques are used to investigate the ribonucleoprotein telomerase, which plays a pivotal role in tumorgenesis

Projects

Preclinical Testing of Novel Oxytocin Receptor Activators in Models of Autism Phenotypes

Johns, Josephine, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry/PsychologyAssociate Professor of Neurobiology Curriculum

Research Interests

Effects of drug abuse on maternal behavior and infant development. Neuroendocrinology, Behavioral Psychopharmacology and teratology

Projects

Neurobiological and Behavioral Consequences of Cocaine Use in Mother/Infant Dyads

Knickmeyer-Santelli, Rebecca, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Brain Development, Sex Differences, Gonadal Steroids, Turner Syndrome

Projects

Genome-wide Identification of Variants Affecting Early Human Brain Development

Malanga, CJ, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Neurology

Research Interests

Neurobiology of reward and motivation; neuropharmacology

Projects

Mechanisms of Novel Therapeutics in Fragile X Syndrome

Maness, Patricia, PhD

Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Research Interests

Axon guidance

Projects

Regulation of Spine Morphogenesis by NrCAM

Moy, Sheryl, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of PsychiatryDirector, Mouse Behavioral Phenotyping Laboratory

Research Interests

Characterization and preclinical efficacy testing in mouse models for neuropsychiatric disorders

Projects

Preclinical Testing of Novel Oxytocin Receptor Activators in Models of Autism Phenotypes
Early Intervention in a Mouse Model of NMDA Hypofunction

Odom, Sam, PhD

Director, FPG Child Development InstituteProfessor, School of Education

Research Interests

Autism Spectrum Disorders: early intervention, treatment comparison of preschool programs; adolescents and secondary programs; professional development

Projects

Center for Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (CSESA)
Post Doctoral Training in Special Education Research
The Toddlers Initiative: Promoting the Use of Evidence-based Practices for Toddlers with ASD     
Joint Attention Medicated Learning Project

Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Fernando, PhD

Associate Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

female meiosis, chromosome segregation, non-Mendelian genetics

Projects

Collaborative Cross: A System Genetics Approach to the Study of Male Infertility
Effect of advanced paternal age on the mutational burden and social behavior of offspring in mice

Pedersen, Cort, MD

Co-Director: UNC Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Clinic Professor of Psychology

Research Interests

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders / Women’s Mood Disorders

Projects

Preclinical Testing of Novel Oxytocin Receptor Activators in Models of Autism Phenotypes

Philpot, Ben, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular PhysiologyAssociate Director, IDDRC Post Doctoral Research Training Program

Research Interests

Neurobiology of Angelman Syndrome

Projects

A Chemical Genetic Approach for Activating the Dormant Gene Associated with Rett Syndrome
Epigenetic Regulation of Ube3a as a Treatment for Angelman Syndrome

Piven, Joseph, MD

Director, Carolina Institute for Developmental DisabilitiesThomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry

Research Interests

pathogenesis of autism, Fragile X - MRI/DTI, genetics, early development

Projects

Longitudinal MRI Study of Brain Development in Fragile X
A Longitudinal MRI Study of Infants at Risk for Autism (ACE Network)
IBIS-EARLI Collaboration (Years 4/5) - Genetic Supplement to IBIS
Mapping the Development of Joint Attention Neural Circuitry: A Preliminary Step in Developing a Screening Test for Autism
Autism in Older Adults: A Pilot, Descriptive Study

Roth, Bryan, MD, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology

Research Interests

Molecular neurobiology; CNS drug discovery; synthetic biology

Projects

Identification of Small Molecules for Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders

Short, Sarah, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

My research is focused on characterizing brain and cognitive development in typical and high-risk children from birth through early childhood. My current research investigates the neural networks associated with the formation of working memory capacity, as well as, structural-plasticity associated with working memory training in young children.

Projects

White Matter and Working Memory Development in Typical and High-Risk Children

Sikich, Linmarie, MD

Associate Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Intervention research for autism, fragile x, early onset psychosis and pediatric bipolar disorder

Projects

Autism Center of Excellence SOARS Network – Study of Oxytocin in Autism to improve Reciprocal Social Behaviors
Improving Metabolic Parameters of Child Antipsychotic Treatment (IMPACT)

Smith, Spencer, PhD

Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology

Research Interests

Circuit and systems neurobiology of autism spectrum disorders. We use multiphoton imaging, intrinsic imaging, and patch clamp electrophysiology in vivo to study the development and function of neural circuitry in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We are interested in how experience dependent plasticity plays a role in the development of neural circuitry, and how this is affected in ASD.

Projects

Imaging Neuronal Activity and Connectivity Across Neocortical Areas

Snider, William, MD

Director, UNC Neuroscience CenterProfessor, Neurology and Cell and Molecular Physiology

Research Interests

Developmental Regulation by Neuronal Growth Factors

Projects

GSK-3 is a Master Regulator of Neural Progenitor Self-Renewal
Reversible cell type specific disruption of ERK signaling in developing cortex

Stuber, Garret, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Cell Biology and Physiology

Research Interests

My primary research goal is to further delineate the precise neural circuits that underlie motivated behavioral processes that are perturbed in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders such as addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. I have the expertise, leadership, track record, and motivation necessary to run a highly successful and productive research program and I have had extensive training in both behavioral neuroscience and neurophysiology. Throughout my graduate and postdoctoral training, I utilized both in vivo and in vitro methodologies to study rapid dopamine signaling as well as synaptic plasticity during or immediately following behavioral treatments. My current research focuses uncovering defined neural circuit elements that underlie adaptive and maladaptive behavioral states. To accomplish this, my laboratory employs multiple cutting-edge techniques both in vivo and in vitro. Specifically, we use in vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to monitor the release of dopamine, in vivo electrophysiology and calcium imaging to monitor neural activity during behavior, and ex vivo patch-clamp electrophysiology to measure additional synaptic alterations following in vivo manipulations. These experimental approaches also incorporate optogenetic or chemogenetic stimulation or inhibition to allow for pathway-specific perturbation of neural function. Collectively, my lab aims to generate a holistic understanding of the neural circuit function that underlies complex motivated behavioral processes, with the long term of goal of identifying novel neural circuit elements to therapeutically target for the treatment of neuropsychiatric and related illnesses.

Projects

Midbrain Neural Circuit Elements That Underlie Cue-Reward Associations

Styner, Martin, PhD

Associate Director Neuro Image Research CenterResearch Assistant Professor at Department of Computer Science and Psychiatry

Research Interests

Brain development, human bain MRI analysis, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Evaluation of image processing methodology, Rodent brain MRI analysis, Primate brain MRI analysis, Registration methodology, Structural brain segmentation, etc

Projects

Developmental Brain Atlas Tools and Data Applied to Humans and Macaques

Sulik, Kathleen, PhD

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Research Interests

Teratology/Developmental Toxicology; Alcohol-Induced Birth Defects

Projects

Craniofacial and CNS Pathology in a Mouse FASD Model
Structural and Functional Central Nervous System Pathology in an FASD Mouse Model

Watson, Linda, Ed.D.

Professor, Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

Autism: early identification, social-communication development, sensory features, early intervention

Projects

Efficacy of a Parent-Mediated Intervention for One-Year-Olds at-Risk for Autism

Zylka, Mark, PhD

Associate Professor, Cell and Molecular Physiology

Research Interests

Molecules and Mechanisms for Pain and Angelman Syndrome Therapies

Projects

Epigenetic regulation of Ube3a as a treatment for Angelman syndrome

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