School of Life Sciences
College of Natural Sciences
Phone: (808) 956-6682
Fax: (808) 956-4745
I am interested in the genetic and molecular pathways that drive brain evolution. My team uses the Mexican tetra cavefish as a model system and addresses the mechanisms of behavioral shifts as readouts of the brain evolution. My lab is equipped with devices for genomic, developmental, morphological, and behavioral analyses. We recently expanded our interest to address the mechanisms of autism-like symptoms in cavefish in terms of the gut-brain axis: the pathway linking the commensal gut microbiota, its metabolites, ketosis, and brain functions. This new research is based on finding systemic parallels between cavefish and autistic patients at the level of autism-related behaviors, genetics, metabolic condition, drug responses, and gut microbiota composition.
Gut microbiota is an emerging systemic mechanism associated with autism. We will contribute to C-MĀIKI by determining the beneficial microorganism that can mitigate autism-like behaviors.
IMPACT TO HAWAII
Under the collaboration with the local autism physician, Dr. Ryan Lee, a C-MĀIKI researcher, Dr. Joanne Yew, and a ketosis specialist, Dr. Kieran Clarke at Oxford Univ, we will develop alternative treatments for autism by diet supplement and/or ingesting microorganism. This new and sustainable approach has a good potential to benefit Hawaii and worldwide patients, in addition to uncovering the role of metabolism/gut microbiota in the brain function evolution.