Professor in Neurology
My principal area of research involves elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying multi-factorial diseases. My lab is primarily interested identifying the complex genetic factors that give rise to multiple sclerosis, autism and cardiovascular disease. We are using targeted approaches to identify differential methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) in individuals with autism, and applying these data to an NICHD funded ACE award, SOARS-B, to assess long term use of oxytocin nasal spray to improve social reciprocity in 300 children with autism, and for which we are developing e/genetic and transcriptomic predictors of response and effects of long term drug exposure. My MS laboratories at Duke University and the David H Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) are using cell signaling and immune cell flow sorting to establish the role of IL7R signaling in the development of MS; we have developed three novel mouse strains to induce EAE susceptibility and to investigate allele and splicing specific effects of IL7R in these novel MS models; 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 also Director of the nascent Duke Center for Research in Autoimmunity and MS within the Duke Department of Neurology.