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W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor
UNC-Chapel Hill

Education and Training

Virginia Tech, BS, Biochemistry
Harvard Medical School, PhD, Neurobiology
California Institute of Technology, Postdoc, Neurobiology

Areas of Interest

Mechanisms and therapeutics for autism and pain

Recent whole exome sequencing studies identified hundreds of genes linked to autism, many of which are transcriptional regulators. My lab is studying a number of these transcriptional regulators using genome-wide approaches to determine how they contribute to autism. This work includes cellular and behavioral studies with neuronal cultures and autism mouse models. We are also using high-throughput sequencing approaches to identify chemical risk factors for autism and other brain disorders, including neurodegeneration.

Our pain research is focused on studying a number of lipid kinases, some of which may represent new therapeutic targets for chronic pain. We are also using circuit-based approaches to dissect pain pathways in the periphery and in the brain. A key goal is to better understand the molecules and circuits that transduce pain so that new therapeutics can be developed.

Awards and Honors

2006-2008: Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship
2006-2009: Klingenstein Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences
2007-2010: Searle Scholar
2007-2010: Rita Allen Foundation-Milton E. Cassel Scholar* (*awarded to highest-ranked scholar)
2013: NIH Pioneer Award




Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities
Neuroscience Center
Neurobiology Curriculum
Bioinformatics and Computional Biology