My doctoral thesis work at the University of Colorado Denver instilled a desire to better understand how aberrant NMDAR and AMPA receptor (AMPAR) signaling is linked to developmental neurological disorders. I chose to work with Dr. Lombroso at the Yale Child Study Center for my post-doctoral training so that I could become an independent scientist and make valuable contributions towards determining whether therapeutic strategies which regulate NMDAR and AMPAR trafficking can be utilized to treat childhood-onset mental disorders. As a well-regarded scientist specializing in the role of the tyrosine phosphatase STEP, Dr. Lombroso’s laboratory affords an excellent opportunity for me to continue and extend my focus in the regulation of glutamate receptor signaling by tyrosine phosphorylation. Specifically, my project aims to determine whether therapeutic strategies directed at reducing STEP activity may be effective in treating Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). FXS is the most common hereditary form of mental retardation and is one of the most common known inherited forms of autism. Cognitive disabilities, anxiety, and seizures are among the core symptoms of FXS, and approximately 25-30% of children with FXS meet the criteria for autism. Despite significant advancements in understanding the etiology of FXS, effective treatment strategies for patients are lacking. In the lab, I utilize biochemical and behavioral techniques to determine the efficacy of STEP as a new therapeutic target for FXS. I also collaborate with another lab at Yale to perform electrophysiology experiments with the same goal.
Dr. Lombroso is very involved in his approach to training post-docs and students and checks-in daily on our progress. He has been very encouraging of my desire to write and obtain my own research funding and has celebrated when I was successful. He also has a keen interest in making sure that I obtain publications throughout my fellowship and has given multiple opportunities to work with other lab members to do so. Outside of the lab, I am an avid gardener, enjoy the outdoors, and love spending time with my family and two cats.