Ugne Klibaite, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

SFARI Bridge to Independence Fellow

Ugne Klibaite is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She received her B.S. in biomedical engineering at Columbia University and completed her Ph.D. in quantitative and computational biology at Princeton University. In her doctoral work with Joshua W. Shaevitz, she employed an unsupervised biophysical approach to explore the structure of fruit fly interaction as well as to phenotype mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders. In her postdoctoral training with Bence Ölveczky, Klibaite is developing novel tools to capture spontaneous social interaction in rats. By combining high-resolution 3D postural tracking, neural measurements and new analytical tools for behavioral quantification she aims to characterize social deficits across different monogenic rat models of autism spectrum disorder and explore their neural underpinnings.

Project: The emergence of social deficits in rat models of autism

Social deficits are a hallmark of autism, present in very complex ways and we currently lack the methods to comprehensively phenotype these behaviors in animal models. Tracking the emergence of social deficits across development is particularly challenging and will require acquiring and analyzing data spanning multiple modalities and time-scales. My lab will tackle our limited understanding of social deficits in rodent models of autism by asking how these deficits emerge and develop in early life. To achieve this we will develop and harness tools including continuous home-cage monitoring, precise kinematic recordings, and multi-scale analysis to generate interpretable behavioral readouts that can be leveraged to study more specific mechanistic aspects of social development in autism.

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