Position title: Assistant Professor
Phone: (608) 265-6142
Cell and Regenerative Biology
Ph.D., University of Cincinnati
I have a longstanding interest in the development of the nervous system. My scientific interest is in dysregulation of neurodevelopmental processes in human developmental disorders and builds on my foundational training in developmental biology, neural development, signaling in nervous system development and stem and progenitor cell biology. My primary research program is focused on using human pluripotent stem cells to study the early development of the cerebral cortex in neurodevelopmental disorders, including Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. My lab was one of the first to generate trisomy 21 human pluripotent stem cells. We showed that human trisomy 21 iPSC derived dorsal forebrain neurons have deficits in oxidative stress and synaptic function (Weick et al., 2013) and more recently have shown that these neurons have reduced synaptic plasticity (Dong et al., iScience 2020). My lab has also investigated cellular and molecular consequences of the FMR1 mutation in the development of human cortical neurons in a productive collaboration with Xinyu Zhao. We recently identified human-specific targets of the FMR1 protein in developing human neurons (Li et al., Genome Research 2020). Thus, by analyzing cellular and molecular consequences in neural development of pluripotent cells that carry genetic mutations known to cause intellectual impairment, my research program aims to uncover processes that are impaired in disorders.
Stem cells, neural development, intellectual disability, neurodevelopmental disorders