Research in our lab is directed at determining the molecular pathologies underlying stress disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and suicidal behavior. We identify therapeutic and biomarker targets relevant to those disorders by utilizing human brain-derived data from frozen postmortem tissue. We conduct research focused on the connection between stress and brain functions.
Molecular Technologies in the Girgenti Lab
Cell-type specific genomic atlas of stress disorders
We are currently profiling two molecular modalities (transcriptome and epigenome) by snRNA-seq and snATAC-seq in primary postmortem brain regions across several neuropsychiatric disorders.
Functional characterization of PTSD risk variants
We are expanding upon the rich transcriptomic data generated from our PTSD and MDD postmortem brain tissue by incorporating genome-scale DNA methylation (DNAm) data, alternative splicing, non-coding RNAs and proteomics with genetic data to better determine how genetic risk for PTSD and MDD manifests in the human brain.
Animal models of traumatic and chronic stress
We are validating our molecular findings using a broad array of mouse models and techniques (viral vectors and genetic mutants) in females and males to characterize the behavioral and molecular mechanisms of stress-related disorders.
Molecular pathology of suicide
We are identifying cell types, networks, and genes with causal roles in suicide by comparing transcriptomic signatures of PTSD and MDD subjects with or without death by suicide.
iPSC Functional Validation of PTSD causal genes
We are applying hiPSC-based approaches to manipulate the genotype and/or expression levels of putative causal risk genes identified in large GWAS and postmortem datasets.