Assistant Professor in the department of Physiology and Pharmacology and group leader for the Developmental and Translational Neurobiology research group.
I received my PhD from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2016. My doctoral work addressed questions regarding genetic, transcriptional, and epigenetic mechanisms in adult bipolar disorder and major depression using data-driven approaches at different molecular biology levels (DNA, RNA, and epigenetic mechanisms) in large cohorts. I had particular interests in rare genetic variation and response to treatment with lithium in bipolar disorder.
For my postdoctoral training, I delved deeper into the molecular mechanisms driving negative mental health outcomes by joining Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, Germany and the group of Dr. Elisabeth Binder. Using state-of-the-art in vitro models of early developing brain (induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cerebral organoids), single-cell technologies, multiple high-throughput approaches, and extensively characterized human perinatal cohorts, my work shed light on cell-type-specific effects of stress on neurodevelopmental outcomes. I had particular interests in the prenatal period and metabolism of glucocorticoids like cortisol and their receptors.
The lab’s research aims to define the molecular mechanisms underpinning how the environment impacts human brain development, and the long-term outcomes of these exposures on mental health – whether negative (risk) or positive (resilience). It is becoming increasingly clear that significant behavioral dysfunctions and long-term offspring vulnerabilities, as well as resilience mechanisms, can be traced back to maternal prenatal exposures. The fundamental questions behind our research are:
(A) What molecular factors shape in-utero human brain development, leading to life-long disease risk or resilience?
(B) How do environmental stimuli interact with genetic susceptibility in specialized cells and tissues to shape mental health outcomes?
The exposures at the forefront of our interest are stress hormones, psychotropic medications and inflammatory agents, given their interconnected mechanisms of action and relevance in neuropsychiatric phenotypes.
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany
Postdoctoral Fellow: 2016-2022
Department: Translational Research in Psychiatry; Mentor: Elisabeth Binder
Research topic: Early-life and prenatal stress mechanisms: single-cell level transcriptome and epigenome investigation in the brain organoids and perinatal tissues
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Department: Human Genetics; Mentors: Gustavo Turecki and Guy Rouleau
Thesis title: Investigation of genetic and molecular susceptibility factors for bipolar disorder
Guelph University, Guelph, Canada
BSc (Honors): 2008
Department: Molecular Biology and Genetics; Mentor: Andrew Bendall
Thesis title: Measuring the effects of Dlx5 and Dlx6 on proliferation of the chondrogenic cell line ATDC5
Academic honours, awards and prizes
KI Faculty Fund
KI Committee for Research
The Strategic Research Area Neuroscience (StratNeuro)
Previous funding (selected)
Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Individual Fellowship, Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA-IF)
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship