Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
As an early-career investigator in the field of psychiatric genetics, I am deeply committed to uncovering the underlying genetic factors that contribute to the development of disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Autism spectrum disorder, especially in populations that are historically unrepresented in biomedical research. Our approach leverages the use of cutting-edge technologies to analyze classical and NGS-assays, such as genome-wide association studies (GWAS), functional genomics, and transcriptomic analysis. Additionally, the implementation of principle component analysis and tools such as STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE, enables us to more accurately explore this data in order to account for subpopulation-specific ancestral fractions across the genome.
Inclusion of ancestrally diverse genetic data, especially in those of African descent is crucial as it allows for a more comprehensive understanding of underlying psychiatric genetic risk factors. More importantly, taking ancestry into account, leads to the identification of population-specific variants. Furthermore, because of the diverse variation that exist in the African genome, including these populations in our studies allows for the discovery of novel risk loci that are normally masked in Euro-centric studies.
We are also utilizing transcriptomic analysis to gain new insights into the underlying mechanisms of psychiatric disorders. By studying gene expression levels in addition to genetic variations, we will be able to identify convergent mechanisms that are disrupted in psychiatric disorders which can provide new targets for treatments and therapies.
I am actively involved with the community, collaborating with organizations and researchers to engage and recruit participants of African descent, and making sure that the study design and analysis are culturally appropriate and respectful. I am also a dedicated member of several academic and community health committees, working to contribute to the discussion and implementation of strategies that aim to reduce health disparities.
I am inspired by the potential to make a real impact on the lives of individuals and families affected by these disorders. I am determined to advance our understanding of the genetics of psychiatric disorders and ultimately improve the lives of those affected, through the use of advanced technologies, inclusive research, and community engagement.