Autism; Community Health Research; Epigenetics; Genome-wide Screening; Neuropsychiatric Disorders; Neuroscience; Transcriptomics
As an early-career investigator in the field of psychiatric genetics, my passion lies in unraveling the complex genetic underpinnings of neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly focusing on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). One of the cornerstones of my research is the exploration of ancestral genetics and its profound impact on our understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders.
The African genome displays remarkable diversity, encompassing a wide range of genetic variations that significantly influence not only individual characteristics but also the predisposition to complex disorders such as ADHD. As a result, it is crucial for our research to incorporate ancestrally diverse genetic data, particularly from individuals of African descent, to unravel population-specific genetic risk factors. By adopting this inclusive approach, we can uncover rare genetic variations and risk factors that often go unnoticed in studies primarily focused on European populations.
On the other hand, single-cell transcriptomic analysis offers an approach to investigate individual cells at the molecular transcriptional level, providing unprecedented resolution into the diversity and heterogeneity within the brain's cellular landscape. By examining gene expression profiles of individual cells, we can discern unique cell types, their specific functions, and how they interact in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders. This level of granularity enables us to identify previously unknown cell subtypes that may be implicated in ADHD pathogenesis.
Additionally, through the integration of single-cell transcriptomic and large-scale genetic studies, we aim to elucidate how specific genetic variations in populations of African ancestry influence gene expression profiles within distinct cell types. This inclusive approach empowers us to decipher the molecular intricacies of ADHD and ASD within a broader genetic context and capture the complexity of these disorders across diverse populations.
Moreover, my research is devoted to understanding the interplay between genetics, environment, and culture in contributing to the manifestations of neurodevelopmental disorders. By collaborating with organizations and researchers, I actively engage to recruit participants of African descent, ensuring cultural appropriateness and respect throughout the study design and analysis. This community engagement is essential to establishing a research framework that genuinely reflects the experiences and perspectives of those affected by these disorders.
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 and epigenetics of psychiatric disorders and ultimately improve the lives of those affected, through the use of advanced technologies, inclusive research, and community engagement.