Toxoplasma gondii is a pathogen that is able to infect virtually all species of warm-blooded animals. In humans, this parasite is responsible for a potentially serious disease called toxoplasmosis. This pathology affects immuno-compromised patients and, in the congenital form of the disease, the parasite can also be transmitted from the mother to her foetus through the placenta. T. gondii replicates in the tissues of the contaminated host, where it causes significant damage.
What is the essence of your research project?
Changes in arousal are at the core of neuropsychiatric disease, including depression and other mood disorders. To develop new treatments for depression it is essential to unravel the neuronal network underlying mood regulation. Neurons that produce the Hcrt neurotransmitter are known to be critically associated with arousal, but their role in mood and depression remains unclear. Under the Stanford/France collaborative project Dr de Lecea, whose laboratory discovered the Hcrt system and pioneered the application of optogenetic methods in freely moving animals will act as host.
Hypertension affects over 1 billion in the world, and risk factors for hypertension, including obesity and insulin resistance, are growing at epidemic proportions around the globe. This increasingly prevalent disease is in significant part due to increased sodium reabsorption by the kidney, but effects of obesity and insulin resistance on specific sodium channels/ transporters are not known. We have developed a robust mouse model of obesity, insulin resistance, and sodium retention to understand the role of insulin in this form of hypertension.
Obesity is an escalating problem worldwide, often attributed to diet but with strong genetic contributions. Genetic studies have begun to identify obesity genes, but current model organisms for these studies are problematic. We are exploring mouse lemurs, the smallest and fastestreproducing primates, as a genetic model organism for primate biology, behavior and diseases. Mouse lemur physiology has been studied in France since 1967, but little is known of their genetics.
Analysis of walking abnormalities is an important clinical assessment used for treatment of gait disorders in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Camerabased motion capture, the current gold standard, enables practitioners to perform gait analyses with high accuracy. However, the technology can only be used in the laboratory where motion capture is constrained to a limited space and incurs significant expense. Mobile systems are now possible using light-weight wearable sensors known as inertial measurement units (IMU).
B and T cell lymphomas are common cancers of the immune system. Although diverse, theses cancers characteristically harbor mutations and genomic aberrations that are solely found in malignant cells. The identification and characterization of these genomic aberrations is a major challenge for designing novel targeted therapies against cancers. Typically cells of the immune system develop via a process that causes intentional breaks in DNA – double strand breaks (DSBs).
I have spent my summer in Paris working to combine efforts between Stanford and the Paris Diderot University on a large-scale research project.
Thanks to the generous support of the FCIS Fellowship, I will be performing research at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. I will be working on extending the analysis of a study that found a link between outbreaks of pediatric encephalitis in Northern Vietnam and litchi harvesting season.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has an estimated incidence of 1:68 in the United States and is among the most common and pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders. Difficulties in face processing, one central component of social behaviors, have been identified as a characteristic behavioral phenotype of ASD. Unfortunately, the cognitive and brain sources of this difficulty remain largely unclear, especially in children. Therefore, my proposed research focuses on understanding the abnormalities in the brains of children with ASD and their relationship with social deficits.