Dr. Roberts' work focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie
cognitive and behavioral functioning in children and adults with neurodevelopmental
disorders such as autism, fragile X syndrome, and ADHD.
The Twiss lab uses molecular and cellular biology approaches to understand how neurons
develop and function. They are particularly interested in how post-transcriptional
regulation impacts neuron growth, focusing on subcellular mRNA translation and RNA
dynamics in neurons.
Dr. Bradsahw’s research focuses on early identification of autism spectrum disorder
(ASD) in the first years of life, including: 1) quantifying the emergence of, and
interrelations between, social behavior, visual attention, and motor skills in neonates,
infants, and toddlers, 2) identifying aberrant neurodevelopmental pathways that lead
to the emergence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 3) translating these basic
findings to early detection and intervention strategies for ASD.
Dr. Hills provides clinical training in ASD assessment skills to clinicians across
the state of South Carolina. Her current research interests focus on autism diagnosis,
psychological assessment, prevention and intervention for at-risk youth and positive
Abigail Hogan, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Hogan’s ongoing research aims to characterize the predictors of social-emotional
functioning in siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her work
utilizes multiple methods, including eye tracking, heart activity measurement, electroencephalogram
(EEG), and behavioral phenotyping.
Research in the Poulain lab aims at understanding how neuronal circuits are formed,
maintained and refined during development. We use a unique combination of genetic,
biochemical and high resolution live imaging approaches in zebrafish to decipher the
cellular and molecular mechanisms of brain wiring directly in vivo. Our discoveries
may give new insight on the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders that originate
from miswiring of neuronal circuits during development.
In humans, heterozygous mutations in LIS1 typically cause a severe developmental brain
abnormality, lissencephaly, in large part due to a critical role in regulating intracellular
trafficking. Recently, in conjunction with the Greenwood Genetics Center, we identified
a conservative mutation in LIS1 in a child diagnosed with autism. We are currently
trying to understand how this mutation impacts LIS1, focusing on potential dysfunction
in the axon.
The Hollis lab uses behavioral and cellular biology approaches to investigate the
role of brain mitochondrial function in social behaviors relevant to neurodevelopmental
disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Dr. Cai is an bioinformatician and his research focuses on the development and application
of bioinformatic, statistical and computational methods for analyzing genomic and
biomedical data to investigate complex human disease including Autism and Neurodevelopmental
Disorders. Specifically, his current research aims at developing efficient methods
for single-cell RNA-seq data analysis, multi-dimensional genomics data integration,
and marker identification and disease outcome prediction using machine learning methods.
Dr. Klusek’s research program aims to delineate the nature and basis of communication
deficits in conditions associated with FMR1 gene dysfunction: fragile X syndrome and
the FMR1 premutation. Her research focuses on three primary areas: (1) defining communication
features and their interface with psychiatric and cognitive aspects of the phenotype;
(2) identifying biomarkers to inform mechanistic underpinnings, with a focus on autonomic
and molecular genetic markers; (3) addressing syndrome-specificity via the use of
a cross-population comparison approach that juxtaposes fragile X with autism-- disorders
of shared behaviors but distinct genetic etiologies.
Dr. Suzanne McDermott is an epidemiologist and her research program involves identifying
risk factors during pregnancy such as infections, chemicals and disease processes
that increase the risk for fetuses to develop a neurodevelopmental disability, especially
intellectual disability and autism.