Years active at Yale: 1987-present
Dr. Vaccarino is being recognized for her accomplishments in research and as a strong supporter of women’s rights. She was a member of the executive committee of the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM) for many years, until 2016. She is a leader in the field of stem cell research in neuroscience.
Dr. Vaccarino received her MD from the University of Padua and completed her residency at YSM. Her lab has derived hundreds of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from patients with developmental disorders as a window into normal and abnormal neuronal development. Her laboratory established a new protocol for converting iPSCs into models of developing brain tissue known as organoids that reflect the human cerebral cortex at mid-fetal stages of development, including the main 5 classes of excitatory cortical neurons and inhibitory interneurons. Using this tool, the group recently contributed fundamental work on neurodevelopmental alterations in autism spectrum disorders.
Dr. Vaccarino’s studies of children with idiopathic autism and unaffected family members indicate alterations in cell proliferation, overproduction of synapses,and a striking increase in inhibitory neuron lines, caused in part by an aberrant increase in FOXG1 gene expression.As part of the PsychENCODE collaborative multi-site project, the lab will generate a genome-scale catalog of coding and noncoding RNAs and functional DNA elements in iPSC-derived organoids. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of PsychoENCODE and the Brain Somatic Mosaicism Constoria.