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Investigators & Projects

Listed in alphabetical order

Anton, Eva, PhD

Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology

Research Interests

Cerebral cortical development, Biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders

Projects

Radial Glial Development and Differentiation
Role of radial glial tiling in the formation and malformation of the cerebral cortex

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

Stress Regulation, Working memory and Cognitive Disorganization in Adolescence

Berg, Jonathan, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

development and application of genetic tests in patients and their families

Projects

North Carolina Clinical Genomic Evaluation by Next-Gen Exome Sequencing 2

Capal, Jamie K., MD

Associate Professor, Neurology

Research Interests

Neurodevelopmental disorders, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, ASD, Angelman syndrome

Projects

An Open-Label, Multicenter Study to Investigate the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of RO7248824 in Participants with Angelman Syndrome
Sirolimus TSC Epilepsy Prevention Study (STEPS)
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Multiple-Center, Efficacy and Safety Study of ZYN002 Administered as a Transdermal Gel to Children and Adolescents with Fragile X Syncrome - RECONNECT

Chan, Dara, ScD, CRC

Assistant Professor, Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

Community integration and resource use for people with physical and psychiatric disabilities; spatial analysis of accessibility and the environment using Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Projects

Using GIS and GPS techniques to understand meaningful participation for adults with autism spectrum disorder

Cohen, Jessica, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience

Research Interests

Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Development, Developmental Disorders, ADHD, Neuroimaging, Functional Connectivity, Graph Theory

Projects

Large-scale brain organization during cognitive control in ADHD
Longitudinal investigation of the neurobiological underpinnings of risk behavior in ADHD throughout the adolescent transition: the key role of cognitive control and motivation network development

Daniels, Julie, PhD

Professor, Epidemiology

Research Interests

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

Projects

NC CADDRE: Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) Phase III

Deshmukh, Mohanish, PhD

Professor, Cell Biology & Physiology

Research Interests

Neuronal survival and death pathways

Projects

Establishing Apoptotis Thresholds: Insights from Neurons and Stem Cells to Cancer

Dichter, Gabriel, PhD

Professor, Psychiatry

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

Development of A Novel Transdiagnostic Intervention for Anhedonia
Inflammation as a Candidate Mediator of Anhedonia Treatment Response
Carolina SPARK: Carolina Site for the SFARI National Autism Cohort

Diering, Graham, PhD

Assistant Professor, Cell Biology & Physiology

Research Interests

understanding the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity with a particular interest in sleep

Projects

Sleep-dependent synapse remodeling during development and Rett syndrome
Evaluating early life pyrethroid exposure and sleep disruption in autism spectrum disorder

Engel, Stephanie, PhD

Professor, Epidemiology

Research Interests

Child development, Environmental toxicants, Maternal health, Reproductive health

Projects

Environmental Influences on Brain Development

Fu, Haiyan, PhD

Associate Professor, Pediatrics

Research Interests

Our major research interest is in developing gene therapy products for the treatment of neuropathic monogenic diseases, which have led to the IND approvals of three Phase I/II systemic rAAV9 gene delivery clinical trials for MPS II, MPS IIIA and MPS IIIB. For effective translation of rAAV gene therapy approaches, our efforts also include developing effective approaches to overcome widespread pre-existing antibodies against AAV in humans. We are also interested in identifying effective biomarkers, especially neuro-specific biomarkers for neurogenetic disorders and neurological diseases in general.

Projects

Facilitate and Enhance the CNS entry of systemically delivered AAV vectors for treating MPS IIIA and MPS IIIB in mice
Rapid Transient Depletion of Pre-existing Antibodies for rAAV Gene Delivery

Gershon, Timothy, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Neurology

Research Interests

Neurobiology of cerebellar development and medulloblastoma

Projects

Defining and quantifying cognitive impairment induced by brain tumor therapy in a mouse model
Defining the crucial role of MAGOH in cerebellar development and the potential for targeting the EJC in medulloblastoma treatment
Bcl-xL-regulated apoptosis in cerebellar development and medulloblastoma treatment

Gilmore, John, MD

Distinguished Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Imaging early childhood brain development

Projects

Early Brain Development in Twins
The Origins of Preadolescent Risk for Psychiatric Disorders in Early Childhood Brain Development

Girault, Jessica, PhD

Professor, Public Policy

Research Interests

Racial and economic disparities and opportunities for success, family needs and assets, program and services access, quality and experiences

Projects

Genetic Liability for Autism and Infant Brain and Behavior Development
Identifying the role of parental traits in explaining phenotypic Identifying the role of parental traits in explaining phenotypic variability in children with neurogenetic developmental disorders: towards early individualized intervention

Grewen, Karen, PhD

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

Effects of prenatal opiates on infant brain neurobehavioral development
Effects of prenatal cocaine on early brain functional connectivity and behavior

Grzadzinski, Rebecca, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

ASD, Down Syndrome, Treatment Outcome, Behavioral trajectories, social arousal and sensory regulation

Projects

Social Communication Deficits and Associated Brain Markers in Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gupton, Stephanie, PhD

Associate Professor, Cell Biology & Physiology

Research Interests

The overall research goal of my laboratory is to define cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating the development and maintenance of a functional nervous system, and the consequences of their going astray. We are interested particularly in molecules that spatially and temporally coordinate cytoskeletal reorganization at and vesicle delivery to the expanding plasma membrane of developing neurons.

Projects

Exocytosis fuels plasma membrane expansion in developing neurons

Harrop, Clare, PhD

Assistant Professor, Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

-Restricted and repetitive behaviors in ASD
-Sex differences in ASD
-Early intervention
-Translational research methods

Projects

Female Specific Electrophysiological Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Executive Functions and Behavioral Inflexibility in Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD): A Cross-Diagnostic Comparison

Hazlett, Heather, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

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

Projects

White Matter Pathology in Angelman Syndrome and its Potential as an Outcome Measure in Clinical Trials
Supplement to add cohort of children with Down Syndrome to “Brain and behavior study of autism from infancy through school age”
A Longitudinal MRI Study Characterizing Very Early Brain Development in Infants with Down Syndrome
Piloting an early intervention program for infants with fragile X syndrome
Cellular and molecular mechanisms governing cortical surface area overgrowth in iPSC-derived neural cells from longitudinally characterized autism individuals

Iruka, Iheoma, PhD

Professor, Public Policy

Research Interests

Racial and economic disparities and opportunities for success, family needs and assets, program and services access, quality and experiences

Projects

Effects of Race and Racism on Parenting a Black Child with Autism

Kato, Hiroyuki, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

understand the circuit mechanisms underlying how our brain synthesizes auditory information to extract complex sound features, such as our language

Projects

Excitation-Inhibition Imbalance in Autistic Auditory Cortex and its Effects on Spectro-Temporal Sound Integration
Cortical circuits for temporal integration of multi-frequency sounds
Regulation of sensory representations by global recurrent circuitry across cortical layers
Neural circuits underlying spectro-temporal integration of sounds

Klinger, Laura, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

adult outcomes and transition intervention approaches that facilitate positive outcomes with regards to employment, mental health, community integration, and quality of life for individuals with ASD

Projects

Efficacy of a Community College Transition Program for Young Adults with ASD
Examining the Efficacy of the TEACCH School Transition to Employment and Post-Secondary Education Program

Li, Chengwen, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Pediatrics

Research Interests

Gene therapy for genetic neurological and hearing loss diseases

Projects

Optimization of AAV vector delivery for enhanced transduction

Lin, Weili, PhD

Professor, Radiology

Research Interests

Dr. Lin's research interests are two-fold: Using PET and MR imaging to research cerebral ischemia, both pre-clinically and clinically. Dr. Lin hopes his research in this field will refine how imaging can be used to guide therapy. Using MR as a means to noninvasively learn about structural and functional brain maturation.

Projects

UNC/UMN Baby Connectome Project

Lorenzo, Damaris, PhD

Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology

Research Interests

Molecular mechanisms of neuronal development and brain connectivity. Neurodevelopmental disorders. Mouse models of callosal agenesis and autism.

Projects

Role of ankyrin-B in the nervous system

Maddox, Brenna, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Co-occurring psychiatric conditions in people with autism; mental health services; suicide prevention; implementation science

Projects

Biobehavioral Markers of Suicide Risk in Female Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum

Maness, Patricia, PhD

Professor, Biochemistry and Biophysics

Research Interests

understanding the molecular mechanisms governing development of the mammalian nervous system; specifically, mechanisms of axon guidance and synaptic targeting and their disruption in neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders

Projects

Mechanisms of Developmental Spine Pruning Regulated by IGCAMS and Semaphorins

Moy, Sheryl, PhD

Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

Characterization and preclinical efficacy testing in mouse models for neuropsychiatric disorders

Projects

Characterizing the (epi)genetics of oxytocin response in clinical and animal models

Odom, Sam, PhD

Professor, School of Education

Research Interests

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

Projects

An Efficacy Study of the School Based National Professional Development Center on ASD Model

O'Shea, Mike, MD

Professor, Pediatrics

Research Interests

Epidemiologic studies of brain damage and neurodevelopmental outcome in very low gestational age newborns; Developmental follow up of participants in neonatal clinical trials.

Projects

Environment, Epigenetics, Neurodevelopment & Health of Extremely Preterm Children

Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Fernando, PhD

Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

evolution, mouse genetics, epigenetics, female meiosis, chromosome segregation, meiotic drive

Projects

Genetics of seizure sensitivity in the Collaborative Cross

Parnell, Scott, PhD

Assistant Professor, Cell Biology & Physiology

Research Interests

Pathology, pathogenic mechanisms and genetic susceptibilities underlying fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other drugs of abuse

Projects

Exploring the Genetics of FASD in Complementary Mouse and Fish Models
Cellular Mechanisms in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
In vivo evaluation of safety and pharmacology of the sustained release formulation of dolutegravir in pre-conception and early stages of pregnancy in animal models

Perkins, Diana, MD, MPH

Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

psychosis risk prediction and early intervention, as well as investigations of the genetic basis of schizophrenia

Projects

5/9-Predictors and Mechanisms of Conversion to Psychosis (NAPLS)

Philpot, Ben, PhD

Professor, Cell Biology & PhysiologyAssociate Director, IDDRC Post Doctoral Research Training Program

Research Interests

Identification and validation of novel therapeutics for the treatment of monogenic neurodevelopmental disorders; Understanding the molecular, cellular, and electrophysiological basis for the pathophysiology underlying monogenic neurodevelopmental disorders.

Projects

White Matter Pathology in Angelman Syndrome and its Potential as an Outcome Measure in Clinical Trials
Preclinical testing of NSI-189/190 in Angelman syndrome model mice
TCF4 in Pitt-Hopkins syndrome
Exploration of critical periods for UBE3A overexpression in Dup15q Syndrome and ASD

Piven, Joseph, MD

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

Research Interests

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

Projects

Brain and Behavior Study of Autism from Infancy through School Age (ACE Network)
An ASD Enriched (ASD-ER) ECHO Cohort
Investigating Air Pollution Effects on the Developing Brain and ASD
MRI based pre-symptomatic prediction of ASD
Metals Dysregulation, Brain Development, and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Cellular and molecular mechanisms governing cortical surface area overgrowth in iPSC-derived neural cells from longitudinally characterized individuals with autism

Powell, Cynthia, MD

Professor, Pediatrics and Genetics

Research Interests

Genetics of hearing loss; genetic and chromosomal syndromes; ethical issues in genetics; and newborn screening

Projects

Collaborative Innovation Award Early Check RPPR

Propper, Cathi, PhD

Research Scientist, Center for Develpmental Science

Research Interests

development of infant and child self-regulation from a developmental science perspective

Projects

A Mechanistic Study of the Association Between Poverty and Executive Functions in Early Childhood: Contributions of Early Brain Development and the Early Caregiving Environment

Rodriguez-Romaguera, Jose, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Research Interests

The primary goal of our lab is to dissect the neuronal circuits that drive hyperarousal states by monitoring neuronal activity with single-cell precision using mice as a model system

Projects

Dissecting the Neural Circuits of Hyperarousal States in Psychiatry

Ropp, Tessa-Jonne, PhD

Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology

Research Interests

autism, CAPD, auditory system, hearing loss

Projects

Communication deficits in autism linked to central auditory axonal dysfunction

Roth, Bryan, MD, PhD

Professor, Pharmacology

Research Interests

GPCR Structure and Function, Synthetic Neurobiology, Drug Discovery

Projects

Illuminating the Druggable GPCR-ome

Shen, Mark, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry & Neuroscience Center https://markshenlab.org/

Research Interests

Research Interests: (1) To conduct longitudinal neuroimaging and deep phenotyping studies in infants and toddlers to identify early markers and therapeutic targets for neurodevelopmental disorders (autism, Fragile X, and Angelman syndrome. (2) To reverse-translate these findings in children to mechanistic studies in animal models. (3) To forward-translate this research to clinical trials delivering novel therapeutics to individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Projects

Integrating clinical assessment, neuroimaging, and genetics to validate an infant brain anomaly as an early marker for autism.
Cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities in neurodevelopmental disorders (autism, Fragile X, Angelman Syndrome) and corresponding mouse models.
Clinical trials and biomarker discovery in Angelman Syndrome.
Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS; NIH ACE Network)

Sheridan, Margaret, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychology

Research Interests

neural underpinnings of the development of cognitive control across childhood (from 5-18 years of age) and to understand how and why disruption in this process results in psychopathology

Projects

Do dimensions of adversity differentially predict neural development and psychopathology in young children
Using growth models to identify how trajectories of infant brain development predict childhood behavior and neural function

Shih, Yen-Yu Ian, PhD

Associate Professor, Neurology

Research Interests

High resolution MRI in animal models, fMRI signaling mechanisms, neuromodulation and recording, brain circuit connectivity.

Projects

Mechanisms underlying positive and negative BOLD in the striatum

Song, Juan, PhD

Assistant Professor, Pharmacology

Research Interests

Adult neurogenesis function and regulation

Projects

Neural circuitry mechanisms regulating adult hippocampal neurogenesis
Role of TRIM9 in regulating neurogenesis-associated hippocampal functions

Stein, Jason, PhD

Assistant Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

Exploring how variations in the genome change the structure and development of the brain, and in doing so, create risk for neuropsychiatric illness

Projects

pathQTL: Integrative Multi-Omics Causal Inference of Molecular Mechanisms Leading to Neuropsychiatric Illness
Integrative Analysis of Common Variation Associated with ASD
The influence of common genetic variation on brain overgrowth pathways
Quantifying the developmental trajectory of autism-associated brain overgrowth using 3D cellular resolution imaging

Steinbrenner, Jessica, PhD

Associate Professor, Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

Autism, social-communication, school-based interventions

Projects

Validation of an Outcome Measure of Early Social-Communication for Young Children With ASD

Styner, Martin, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Computer Science

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

Temporal connectomics for infant brain: neuro-development modulated by pathology
Detection and Correction of Iron Deficiency Induced Abnormal Brain Metabolism
Intergenerational Effects of Maternal Childhood Trauma on the Fetal Brain

Sullivan, Patrick, MD, FRANZCP

Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

complex traits in humans, psychiatric genetics, pharmacogenetics, twin studies, schizophrenia, major depression, nicotine dependence

Projects

1/7 Psychiatric Genomics Consortium: Finding actionable variation

Tomaszewski, Brianne, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

Research Interests

autism, employment, transition, adaptive behavior, self-determination, adolescence, adulthood, behavioral intervention, intellectual disability, physical activity, quality of life, down syndrome

Projects

Step It Up+: Increasing Physical Activity Levels for Adults with Intellectual Disability

Vernon-Feagans, Lynne, PhD

Professor, FPG Child Development Institute

Research Interests

children at risk – especially African-American children who live in poverty

Projects

Early Life Stress and the Environmental Origins of Disease: a Population-based Prospective Longitudinal Study of Children in Rural Poverty (ECHO)
An Epidemiological and Longitudinal Study of Rural Child Literacy Trajectories

Walsh, Jessica, PhD

Assistant Professor, Pharmacology

Research Interests

Social behavior, stress, aggression, neural circuits, mouse models for neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders

Projects

Neural Mechanisms underlying different endophenotypes in mouse models for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Watson, Linda, EdD

Professor, Allied Health Sciences

Research Interests

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

Projects

Evaluation of a Novel Intervention for Infants at Risk for Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Prevalence and profile of treatment non-responders in autism early intervention

Won, Hyejung, PhD

Assistant Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

bridging the gap between genetic risk factors for psychiatric illnesses and neurobiological mechanisms by decoding the regulatory relationships of the non-coding genome

Projects

Integrative Analysis of Common Variation Associated with ASD
Connecting gene regulatory mechanisms in human brain to psychiatric illness
Deciphering Cell-type Specific Regulatory Landscape in Human Brain

Zylka, Mark, PhD

Professor, Cell Biology & Physiology

Research Interests

Mechanisms and therapeutics for autism and pain

Projects

Exacerbation of Chd8+/- phenotypes with a suspected environmental risk
CRISPR/Cas9-based gene therapy for Angelman syndrome
Environmental-use chemicals that target pathways linked to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders
UBE3A gain-of-function and parent-of-origin influence on neurodevelopmental phenotypes

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