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Undergraduate Spotlight: Roxana Farokhnia

Group of people standing and smiling.“SMU was the school for me because I wanted a personalized experience in college, where my professors would know me and care about where I want to go in life. My work in the Vogel-Wise Lab allows me as a pre-health student to not only participate in important research on finding ways to help cancer patients who don’t respond to chemotherapy, but also develop my own project and create meaningful connections with professors.” READ MORE

Faculty Spotlight: Edward Glasscock, Associate Professor and Prothro Chair

The Department welcomes Dr. Edward Glasscock as the first holder of the Prothro Distinguished Chair of Biological Sciences. This position is supported by the C. Vincent Prothro Biological Sciences initiative established in 2008 in memory of C. Vincent Prothro ’68, and is intended to foster research efforts in the Department. Dr. Glasscock received his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005, after which he moved to Baylor College of Medicine for post-doctoral training in the Department of Neurology, where he made ground-breaking discoveries in the area of epilepsy. Subsequently, in 2013 he accepted a faculty position at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center at Shreveport, where he established a highly successful research program rising to the rank of Associate Professor.

Dr. Glasscock’s lab, the Cardiorespiratory Neurogenetics Laboratory, is dedicated to understanding the genes and mechanisms underlying epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Epilepsy is characterized by spontaneous recurring seizures and represents the fourth most common neurological disorder affecting about 1 in 26 Americans during their lifetime. People with epilepsy have an increased risk of dying suddenly for unknown reasons. These deaths are classified as sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) and represent the leading cause of epilepsy-related mortality.

Dr. Glasscock currently has two active R01 research grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health to identify neuro-cardio-respiratory mechanisms that contribute to increased SUDEP susceptibility. Dr. Glasscock’s lab employs several state-of-the-art in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological techniques in mouse models of epilepsy, including the simultaneous recording of electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), and plethysmography to measure brain, heart, muscle, and lung activities, respectively. He was also recently awarded a United States patent, along with researchers from Louisiana Tech University, for a new mathematical technique to identify brain-heart biomarkers of SUDEP risk from EEG-ECG data. Dr. Glasscock brings with him three talented postdoctoral fellows: Man Si, Indumathy Jagadeeswaram, and Praveen Kumar.

Faculty Spotlight: Adam Norris, Assistant Professor

Dr. Norris has been acknowledged as an outstanding early stage investigator with the award of a prestigious Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institutes of Health. The MIRA grant provides funds with which Dr. Norris may pursue his research in how a cell coordinates multiple layers of gene regulation to produce a functional transcriptome. Using the round worm Caenorahabditis elegans the Norris lab employs molecular genetic analysis to determine the regulatory mechanisms by which transcription factors and RNA binding proteins coordinately control single-neuron transcriptomes. Subsequent application of such state-of-the-art techniques as neuron-specific RNA-Seq and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing then allows Norris to identify co-regulated transcriptional networks and determine the functional relevance of specific gene regulatory events. This research will reveal important insights into conserved regulatory factors relevant to human neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.