Mass shootings are devastating and their prevalence is growing. Many who witness a mass shooting can go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), not to mention the impact on the families and friends of survivors. This year alone, nearly 50 million Americans will battle with PTSD and anxiety-related disorders. There is a pressing need to develop new neural-circuit and genetic treatments to help those that suffer. However, our knowledge of the key brain networks and genes that control the emergence of these disorders is incomplete.
How are learned and innate fears encoded by our brains? How can changes in our innate fear system influence how we learn about and remember new fearful experiences? Answering these questions will provide deep insights into why a select fraction of those exposed to war, assault, and other highly aversive experiences go on to develop anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders. We use a reductionist approach to decipher which brain networks, circuits, and genes control how we respond to learned and innate fears. We use a variety of cutting-edge techniques in Next-Generation Gene Sequencing, CRISPR-Cas Gene Editing, In Vivo Brain Imaging, Network Topology Analysis, and rodent behavior in order to decipher how anxiety and trauma reorganize our molecular and hard-wired brain networks to change how we react to future threats. Find out more about our research.
Scientific discoveries rely on our ability to: 1) rapidly learn from failures, 2) pay attention to the details, 3) think broadly outside of the box, and, in this day and age, 4) work well with others. These abilities are critical regardless of career path. In research, identifying how to answer an important question (e.g., Why do we remember one particular memory more strongly than another?) critically depends on developing these abilities in an intellectually and technically supportive research environment. We want to work together with undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral scholars to solve important problems. We believe that innovative ideas come from anyone of any background at any education level.