My research interests center on control of movement by sensorimotor integration in the mammalian spinal cord. Using predominantly electrophysiological methods applied in vivo, we study neural signaling by spinal motoneurons, somatosensory neurons, and their central synapses. Our primary analyses include electrical properties, synaptic function, and firing behavior of single neurons. We are actively examining how these neurons and synapses respond soon and long after peripheral nerve injury and regeneration. Our recent findings demonstrate that successful regeneration of damaged sensory axons does not prevent complex reorganization of their synaptic connections made within the spinal cord. In separate studies, we are examining novel mechanisms of sensory encoding and their impairment which recently discovered in rodents treated with anti-cancer drugs. Both nerve regeneration and chemotherapy projects are driven by the long-term goal of accurately identifying the neural mechanisms behind movement disorders. We also continue to explore fundamental operations of the normal adult nervous system. Our most recent studies focus on synaptic modulation of motoneuron firing and on interspecies comparisons of spinal circuits.
My lab studies human evolutionary genomics, population genetics, and health disparities. It’s an an exciting time for the field of population genetics, and our research group uses whole genome sequences and computer simulations to study how diverse human populations evolve. We are interested in questions like:
• How have human genomes evolved in response to modern environments?
• How difficult is it for alleles to move between divergent populations?
• Why do hereditary disease risks vary across populations?
• How to best estimate an individual’s predisposition to different genetic diseases?
• What will our genomes look like in the future?
The Heart Regeneration Lab focuses on using genes and chemicals to pace and regenerate the heart. We are based at Emory University in Pediatrics and BME in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering of Georgia Tech and Emory University.