I previously focused on single cell approaches to study the relationship between synaptic morphology and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus using a combination of live-cell imaging and advanced techniques in electrophysiology, including single-synapse microphotolysis combined with gene gun transfection. This work showed the complex relationship between astrocytes and neurons at hippocampal CA1 synapses in organotypic slice cultures. I expanded the scope of my research at the NIH, to include advanced real-time imaging techniques such as in vivo two-photon microscopy, FLIP, FRAP, in vivo single-cell electroporation and real time calcium imaging. This work included the creation and use of track-tracing trans-synaptic rabies virus and Sindbis virus designed to express GFP-tagged Kv4.2 channels. By using two-photon imaging at single dendrites we were able to demonstrate that Kv4.2 channels are differentially trafficked at different regions along the apical dendrite of neurons during basal activity and upon stimulation in a PKA-dependent manner.
Because of my interest in human inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their application in disease modeling, I joined NYSCF and developed a number of protocols surrounding the use of a three-dimensional iPSC culture system called a serum-free embryoid body (SFEB). Using SFEBs, we were able to perform electrophysiology combined with calcium imaging as well as develop a protocol to create interneurons that shared transcriptional histories and functional properties with those that were born in the caudal ganglionic eminence.
My approach at The Hussman Institute for Autism involves leveraging the sum of these experiences to develop a robust human cellular model of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) suitable for preclinical drug discovery and therapeutic development.
During my Ph.D. with Dr. Max Recasens at University of Montpellier, France, I studied the expression of the glutamate transporters during in vitro development of hippocampal neurons. I showed that both GLAST and GLT transporters may play a key role in glutamate uptake during early developmental stages. My first postdoctoral fellowship was with Dr. Linda Richards at University of Maryland Baltimore. I investigated the genes involved in the corpus callosum formation during mouse brain development. I uncovered a number of new mechanisms and molecules (including NFI members, Slit/Robo, Npn1/Semaphorin, and Emx2) that are required for callosal formation. I then worked with Dr. Elizabeth Powell to study the role of HGF/SF (hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor) and its receptor, Met, on GABAergic interneuron migration during brain development. In 2008, I received an award from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund to study the role of the metalloproteinases (MMPs) in stem cell migration after transplantation in mouse adult brain, with Dr. Adam Puche at University of Maryland Baltimore. I also studied the migration of GABAergic interneurons during the development of the olfactory bulb with Dr. Michael Shipley. In 2014 I joined the Department of Pharmacology as a research associate to study stem cell transplantation during traumatic brain injury with Dr. Paul Yarowsky.