Dr. Chen has focuses on the genetic studies on schizophrenia and nicotine dependence in the Department of Psychiatry, VCU, where she not only strengthened experimental skills (genotyping, RT-PCR and RNA-sequencing), but also broadened extensive knowledge/experience in big data management, imputation, genome-wide association studies (GWASs), meta-analysis, polygenic analysis, RNA-Seq analysis and network/pathway analysis. Her studies have led to the discovery of several genes associated with schizophrenia/nicotine dependence, and have been published in peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Chen was trained in genomics, genomic technology and human genetics. The central focus of his research is on the understanding of genetic mechanism of psychiatric disorders and how to use genetic information to prevent and to treat these disorders more effectively. Each individual is genetically unique. Difference in genetic makeup can lead to different susceptibility to diseases. Genetic predisposition also influences treatment efficacy and side effect. We use genetic association and bioinformatic and statistical analyses to identify genes involved in behavioral traits and psychiatric disorders. Currently, Dr. Chen has active projects studying smoking addiction and schizophrenia. In these studies, we correlate genetic variations (genotypes) of research subjects with their observed behaviors/psychiatric symptoms or diagnoses (phenotypes). Once a candidate gene is identified, we will conduct functional studies using techniques such as gene expression, DNA sequencing, gene editing and genomics and epigenetic analyses. With the knowledge of the gene’s functions, we can design more effective prevention and treatment based on individual’s genetic background, fulfilling the goals of personalized medicine. Dr. Chen's research is supported by grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, National Alliance on Research for Schizophrenia and Major Depression, and the Stanley Medical Research Institute.
The Han Lab studies the evolution of genome structure, using bioinformatics to investigate how genomes change through gene duplication, loss, and gene transpositions. The lab also focuses on the phenotypic effects of copy number variations, indels, and transposable element polymorphisms. These are all important aspects of variations in humans that influence health and disease.
Dr. Michael Nasiak is a Medical Geneticist and Internist by training. His interests include the genetics and genomics of common complex disorders seen in adults, and in the utilization of molecular genomics and sequencing modalities in the diagnosis and possible therapeutics of rare genetic conditions. The ability to now use the available biomedical technology to analyze an individual’s genetics in the assessment of their risk for disease, or in the diagnosis of a genetic condition, has entered clinical medicine in ways only imagined a short time ago. These evaluation and diagnostic methods when applied to those at risk can alter the course of disease, or can offer directed therapies, while supplying information to patients, which can improve their outcomes and better their lives. This is the goal of clinical medicine, and the application of genetics offers another tool in the armamentarium of helping and healing the afflicted.
Dr. Oh's lab is interested in identifying genetic and structural variants that contribute to human health and disease as well as in the interpretation of such variation to to improve the cellular and molecular diagnosis of genetic diseases. To address these questions they utilize next generation platforms and mouse and zebrafish models. Over the last decade, the work has been supported by RO1 investigator-led and Program Center grants from NIH and fellowship awards from private foundations. Moving forward, his research program will be centered on the dissection of organellar stress in developmental and late-onset neurological disorders such as, schizophrenia (SZ), autism-spectrum disorders (ASD), and glaucoma.
Martin R. Schiller
The Schiller Lab work has been ongoing and supported in part by the Knowledge Fund. The lab works in the areas of HIV, genomics, and bioinformatics. When a person is infected with some pathogenic virus, such as HIV, the virus inserts its DNA and becomes part of the DNA of the infected cell. This is the main reason HIV is difficult to cure. The Schiller Lab has used TALEN gene-editing technology to damage HIV DNA in infected cells, limiting its ability to produce more virus. A patent application was recently published for this technology. Also developed here is a new biotechnology to screen for molecular functions involved in disease processes, for which a patent application has been submitted. This screen could help lead to many new drug therapies and a better understanding of disease etiology. The Schiller Lab is also in the midst of identifying mutations associated with disease states by comparing thousands of genomes from diseased individuals with those from the unaffected.
Dr. Wu’s research interests include the development and validation of personalized clinical normative values using modern statistical methodology and existing big data, meta-analyses of epidemiologic studies and clinical trials, genome-wide meta-analysis and mega-analysis, statistical methodology research in meta-analysis, clinical trials and big data analysis, and study design and statistical methodology development in observational studies and clinical trials. Dr. Wu has extensive experience in multidisciplinary collaborative research and statistical consulting in biomedical research. His collaborative works have led to 45 research grants funded by federal agencies, major industries and research foundations, on which he served as co-investigator or co-principle investigator and lead statistician. Dr. Wu is also an affiliate faculty member of biomedical informatics at the College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, as well as an academic editor of PLOS ONE, for which he serves on both the statistics advisory and editorial boards. He has also served as a peer reviewer for numerous journals.