The EHS Center is delighted to welcome new member, Dr. Jill Silverman. Dr. Silverman’s predoctoral research in Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center employed preclinical rat models of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and drug abuse. She conducted postdoctoral training and research in translational and behavioral phenotyping projects in mouse models of autism in the laboratory of Jacqueline Crawley at the National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Research Program.
Dr. Silverman joined the faculty of the University of California Davis MIND Institute in 2012, where she heads the Rodent Behavioral Cores for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. Her research projects have employed a multi-tiered comprehensive phenotyping strategy that has led to the discovery of clinically relevant phenotypes in mutant rodent models of human genetic diseases including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, Fragile X Syndrome, intellectual disabilities, 22q13 deletion (Phelan-McDermid), and Duplication 15q Syndromes.
In collaboration with other EHS Center investigators, Dr. Silverman is leading a study to examine the the developmental neurotoxicity of air pollutant exposures in preclinical animal models, testing the hypothesis that inhaled traffic-related pollution impairs behavior relevant to the autism phenotype. Dr. Silverman and her co-investigators hypothesize that exposure of the developing brain to toxic inhaled pollutants will cause neuroinflammation and interfere with normal patterns of neuronal connectivity, resulting in an autism phenotype. Furthermore, Silverman and her colleagues expect that these histological and behavioral deficits will be exacerbated by one gene strongly implicated in ASD, ProSAP2/Shank3. SHANK3 mutations are among the more prevalent and reliably replicated monogenic causes of autism.