Jeremy completed his BSc at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, CA followed by a PhD in Genetics from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Matthew W State.
His current research aims to utilize a systems biological approach in order to understand mechanistic convergence among genes strongly implicated in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other complex neuropsychiatric disorders.
Recently, by leveraging several unique datasets including a spatiotemporal map of gene expression in the developing and adult human brain and maps of gene-gene regulatory relationships, we were able to demonstrate that the diverse set of ASD genes identified by whole-exome sequencing appear to converge at specific points of development and in specific regions of the developing human brain. More specifically, cortical projection neurons in the prefrontal cortex during midfetal development appear to be a critical nexus of ASD risk (Willsey et al. 2013). In addition to outlining a novel paradigm for understanding the underlying mechanisms of a complex disorder, this research has provided a path forward to an actionable understanding of ASD biology.
We are currently following up this result in the wet lab with targeted in vitro and in vivo analyses as well as expanding the systems biology analysis to include the newest set of implicated genes, single cell gene expression data, and regulatory network information. Furthermore, by extending this approach to other neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and Tourette syndrome, we aim to understand better the differences and commonalities between ASD and these disorders.