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Helen Willsey, PhD

Title(s)Postdoctoral Scholar, Psychiatry
SchoolSchool of Medicine
AddressLocation Required
Varies CA 00000
Phone415-476-7730
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    Other Positions
    Title(s)UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences


    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse Education and Training
    Duke UniversityBS2009Biology
    Yale UniversityPhD2015Genetics
    University of California, BerkeleyPostdoc2016Xenopus Methods
    University of California, San FranciscoPostdocCurrentDevelopmental Neuroscience
    Collapse Awards and Honors
    UCSF2020Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring
    UCSF2020Psychiatry Department Trainee Research Award
    UC Berkeley20161st Place, Postdoc Poster, GGD Retreat
    International Xenopus Meeting20161st Place, Postdoc Poster
    Yale University2015Carolyn Slayman Outstanding Genetics Thesis Prize
    CSHL, Xenopus Course20151st Place, Image Competition
    Yale University2013Best Research in Progress Seminar, Genetics Department
    Yale University2011Best Poster Award, Genetics Department Retreat
    Duke University2009Edward C. Horn Memorial Prize for Excellence in Biology
    Duke University2009Summa cum laude
    Duke University2009Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    Helen is interested in understanding how Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-associated genes function during neurodevelopment. Despite the genetic heterogeneity of ASD, several lines of evidence suggest that ASD-associated genes share common molecular underpinnings. To identify these common mechanisms, Helen leverages CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing with the diploid frog model Xenopus tropicalis. Due to the speed of frog development, Helen can rapidly study the loss of function phenotype of many ASD genes in parallel. Specifically, she injects Cas9 protein and a single guide RNA (sgRNA) against an ASD gene at the two-cell embryo stage, generating animals in which exactly half the body (separated by the midline) is mutant, allowing for direct comparison of mutant and control cells in the same animal. Helen uses a variety of techniques to identify ‘convergent phenotypes,’ including RNAseq, in situ hybridization, and immunostaining. In this way, Helen's work is aimed at identifying phenotypes most relevant to ASD pathology to provide a path forward for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying ASD.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. The neurodevelopmental disorder risk gene DYRK1A is required for ciliogenesis and control of brain size in Xenopus embryos. Development. 2020 Jun 22; 147(21). Willsey HR, Xu Y, Everitt A, Dea J, Exner CRT, Willsey AJ, State MW, Harland RM. PMID: 32467234.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    2. DYRK1A-related intellectual disability: a syndrome associated with congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract. Genet Med. 2019 12; 21(12):2755-2764. Blackburn ATM, Bekheirnia N, Uma VC, Corkins ME, Xu Y, Rosenfeld JA, Bainbridge MN, Yang Y, Liu P, Madan-Khetarpal S, Delgado MR, Hudgins L, Krantz I, Rodriguez-Buritica D, Wheeler PG, Al-Gazali L, Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al Shamsi A, Gomez-Ospina N, Chao HT, Mirzaa GM, Scheuerle AE, Kukolich MK, Scaglia F, Eng C, Willsey HR, Braun MC, Lamb DJ, Miller RK, Bekheirnia MR. PMID: 31263215.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    3. Katanin-like protein Katnal2 is required for ciliogenesis and brain development in Xenopus embryos. Dev Biol. 2018 10 15; 442(2):276-287. Willsey HR, Walentek P, Exner CRT, Xu Y, Lane AB, Harland RM, Heald R, Santama N. PMID: 30096282.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    4. The Psychiatric Cell Map Initiative: A Convergent Systems Biological Approach to Illuminating Key Molecular Pathways in Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Cell. 2018 07 26; 174(3):505-520. Willsey AJ, Morris MT, Wang S, Willsey HR, Sun N, Teerikorpi N, Baum TB, Cagney G, Bender KJ, Desai TA, Srivastava D, Davis GW, Doudna J, Chang E, Sohal V, Lowenstein DH, Li H, Agard D, Keiser MJ, Shoichet B, von Zastrow M, Mucke L, Finkbeiner S, Gan L, Sestan N, Ward ME, Huttenhain R, Nowakowski TJ, Bellen HJ, Frank LM, Khokha MK, Lifton RP, Kampmann M, Ideker T, State MW, Krogan NJ. PMID: 30053424.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 16     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    5. Localized JNK signaling regulates organ size during development. Elife. 2016 03 14; 5. Willsey HR, Zheng X, Carlos Pastor-Pareja J, Willsey AJ, Beachy PA, Xu T. PMID: 26974344.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    6. Gp93, the Drosophila GRP94 ortholog, is required for gut epithelial homeostasis and nutrient assimilation-coupled growth control. Dev Biol. 2010 Mar 15; 339(2):295-306. Maynard JC, Pham T, Zheng T, Jockheck-Clark A, Rankin HB, Newgard CB, Spana EP, Nicchitta CV. PMID: 20044986.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 22     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
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