Research

Listen to an interview about my work on the policy implications of existing evidence for an association between the CPT1A P479L variant and infant death.

Current: Ongoing research projects include assessments of policy development around implementation of genetic testing in underserved communities. I also continue to study the impacts of gene x environment interactions on inter-individual variability in drug disposition and response, particularly focused on advancing collaborations with underserved populations.

Doctoral Research:  My dissertation emerged out of a partnership with the Yup’ik people in Alaska, the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, the Center for Alaska Native Health Research in Fairbanks, and the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage. It focused on associations of genetics, diet, and sunlight exposure on circulating vitamin D levels, and how these variables may alter response to certain medications. This study required genotyping individuals for alleles important in vitamin D metabolism and correlating genotype with metabolic markers. It also used deep sequencing to assess novel variation and allele frequencies among the Alaska Native people in pharmacogenes affecting warfarin response. Additionally, I studied the validity of using ancestral language relationships  to describe the genetic clustering of individuals to avoid some of the ethical issues presented by genetic testing when working with marginalized communities.

Research with the  Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network: The majority of this work was based on analyses of population-level allele frequencies of pharmacogenetically important genes in marginalized communities. Other projects for NWA-PGRN included investigating the ethics of research with Urban Indian communities, public health policies surrounding common genetic polymorphisms, and recontact with research participants asking for additional biological material for biobanking.

Masters and Undergraduate Research: My work with Dr. Kari Nadeau in the Department of Pediatric Immunology at Stanford focused on the role of regulatory T cells in controlling the T cell response in allergic asthma. I used human T cells to study migration of cells to the lung and the pathways involved in the activation of T cells leading to the lung inflammation that is characteristic of an asthmatic episode. I focused on the chemokine lymphotactin as a candidate for mediating cell migration to the lungs, and measured the degree to which regulatory T cells could suppress the proliferation of T cells. This work included sorting cells using Flow Cytometry, developing a chemotaxis assay to model cell migration to the lungs, analyzing intracellular and extracellular ligands using specific antibodies, and determining cell proliferation and suppression using radioactive markers.

Other Research: My first research was on the transmission of ornamental plant pathogens through greenhouse irrigation systems. Subsequently, I studied Type 1 diabetes and auto-immune disease using a mouse model (Non-Obese Diabetic mice). Skills developed included cell sorting using florescence-activated flow cytometry, analysis of cell-surface HLA proteins to determine chimerization using florescent antibody tags, and surgically implanting insulin into mice.

 

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