Associate Professor
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US

Professional Interests

  • Developmental origins of neurological diseases; ataxia; dystonia; tremor; in vivo electrophysiology; deep brain stimulation; genetics

Professional Statement

The major goal of my research is to determine the biological bases underlying pediatric neurological diseases. Precise neural circuitry is required for proper brain function. Over the last decade I have shown that circuit organization is a fundamental feature of the mammalian brain and genetic defects that disrupt the formation of organized circuits may cause behavioral deficits observed in human conditions. My current efforts are focused on establishing a wiring diagram for brain circuit map alterations in mouse models of ataxia, dystonia, and tremor.

There has been much progress in identifying genes that are thought to be susceptibility loci in for specific conditions. Despite our rapidly advancing knowledge of the genetic mechanisms underlying these disorders, we do not have a clear picture of what cellular and molecular mechanisms guide neural circuit mis-wiring nor do we appreciate how neural signals are encoded in these defective circuit maps. We see a fundamental problem arising. If we do not understand how brain connectivity is affected, no therapy can be tailored to treat these devastating neurological disorders.

To this end, I am using a combination of mouse molecular genetics, neuroanatomical tract tracing and various developmental biology approaches to investigate the developmental origins of disorders that affect circuit formation. Moreover, we are incorporating into our studies novel in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, and deep brain stimulation (DBS) techniques, which will expedite our understanding of how neuronal activity and morphogenetic programs are integrated with gene networks to form functional brain circuits. Using these approaches we have found key circuit pathways that may control brain behavior in multiple disorders and we have uncovered interesting new avenues for restoring motor behavior by modulating brain function.

Selected Publications