My research involves elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying complex neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), autism, Alzheimer's disease (AD), and brain tumors. We use a variety of (epi)genetic, genomic, transcriptomic, and leading edge technologies to identify the underpinnings of disease development and progression.
With respect to autism, we are investigating the use of oxytocin to improve social reciprocity in children with the disorder and developing (epi)genetic and transcriptomic predictors of plasma levels of oxytocin. We are also unraveling the mechanisms associated with sociability in animal models of autism.
In the fields of AD and brain tumor research, my lab is using or developing leading edge single cell and spatial expression profiling platforms to unravel the molecular mechanisms of pathology or tissue related microenvironmental changes associated with disease development and progression.
My MS laboratory at Duke University is exploring the use of high sensitivity assays to develop a trajectory of disease development in progressive MS; we are exploring the use of endogenous oxysterols to trigger remyelination of white matter injury in MS; and establishing the immune expression and receptor profile in stable or progressive MS patients. I am PI of the MURDOCK-MS collection, a cross sectional MS cohort of ~1000 MS patients that will provide the basis for genetic, genomic and metabolomic biomarker identification of MS disease development and progression. I am Director of the Duke Center for Research in Autoimmunity and MS within the Duke Department of Neurology.