Summary: The Thomas lab is starting a new project involving the causes of autism. They are testing the hypothesis that pharmaceutics & personal care products (PPCPs), found in aquatic systems and drinking water, can trigger the expression of autism-like gene expression, hormones and behavior in animal model systems. First, they will be looking at transcriptome-wide gene expression in fish models, following exposure to PPCPs, using a computationally intensive gene-class analysis approach. Second, they will examine gene and protein expression in human neuroblastoma cell cultures, following exposure to PPCPS, and the role of micro RNAs in regulating this expression. Third, they will conduct in vivo experiments in a mouse model, involving treatments of PPCPs in drinking water of pregnant females and examining gene expression and hormone levels in fetal pups.
Minimum Classes: Cell/molecular biology
Projects: Each of the experiments described above will be performed by graduate students with faculty oversight, and will provide opportunities for one or more undergraduate researchers. Students will have the chance to learn how to use animal models or cell cultures, sample preparation for large-scale experiments like microarrays, validation studies involving qPCR, protein analysis by western blot or flow cytometry, and bioinformatics approaches to data management and analysis.