The gut microbiota is integral to gastrointestinal health and disease. Psychological stress has been shown to significantly alter the gastrointestinal microbiota of rats, rhesus monkeys, and humans. Differences in microbiota have also been shown to be present in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and predispose or protect against other forms of diarrhea including bacterial gastroenteritis and radiation-induced diarrhea. Treatment with probiotics containing lactobacillus and other species has been shown to help alleviate IBS symptoms. Stress is hypothesized to act on the microbiota via the brain-gut axis through endocrine, immunological, and/or neurological pathways. My research with Dr. David Kearny and Dr. Roger Bumgarner aims to use 16S rRNA gene PCR with 454 pyrosequencing to determine whether decreasing stress levels in persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) & IBS can lead to a change in the intestinal microbiota. This ultimately might help inform new probiotic and prebiotic treatments for IBS.
January 2007, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Worked with Dr. Wesley Van Voorhis in the Department of Infectious Disease using thermo-melting assays to identify small molecular inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum drug targets.
Winter 2006, AFRIMS/Walter Reed, Bangkok, Thailand. Worked in the Department of Infectious Disease using real-time PCR to identify SNPs in Plasmodium falciparum conferring antimalarial resistance. Clinical time spent on Sanklaburi hospital on the Myanmar border.
Summer 2003, Columbia Presbyterian fMRI Lab, New York, NY. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Joy Hirsch mapping pain, tactile, auditory and visual pathways in the cerebral cortex. Helped develop protocols to measure cortical activity for these modalities and assess for level of functioning in minimally conscious patients.
1999-2002, Pfizer Discovery Technology Center, Cambridge, MA. In Durg Pfinder, collaborated with academic labs to identify new small moelcule modulators of inflammatory diseases. Cloned protein targets, ran high-throughput screens, and worked with chemists to refine chemical potency using computer modeling and rational drug design.
2001-2002, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Mentorship in Infectious Disease under Dr. Nesli Basgoz. Project aimed at identifying genetic markers of long term non-progression in HIV.
1997-1998, Howard Hughes Research Fellowship, Middletown, CT. Summer research leading to honors and master's thesis on Borrelia burgdorferi. Characterized a presumed hemolytic virulence factor that turned out to be a cryptic prophase lysis protein.
Summer 1996, NYU Medical Center Summer Intership, New York, NY. Summer mentorship in MRI with Dr. Edward Knopp and Dr. Elissa Kramer. Research project to develop a database for co-registration fo MRI, CT, PET and nuclear medicine data to improve non-invasive diagnostic specificity of various types of brain tumors.