With over ten years of research experience and a Ph.D. in neuroscience, Yukti Vyas is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux, France, with a deep interest in studying preclinical models of neurodevelopmental disorders from the cellular to the behavioral level. She is an expert electrophysiologist, behavioral scientist and cell culture specialist, using these techniques to understand the functional nuances of the brain in physiological and pathological conditions. Her research and wider interdisciplinary collaborations have resulted in high-quality publications in neurodevelopment and therapeutic research. Her scientific contributions and presentations have led to prestigious and competitive national awards, including the Mary Bullivant Prize in Physiology, the Physiological Society of New Zealand John Hubbard Prize, and the Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust Dame Dorothy Winstone Doctoral Award. In addition, she has an aptitude for mentoring graduate students. She has supervised four graduate student projects from start to finish, teaching complex neuroscientific techniques and providing scientific and intellectual support, with the aim to develop them into independent, confident young scientists. She has also taught doctoral and postdoctoral students at the CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training Programme and the Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience, and hundreds of undergraduates in physiology and anatomy courses.
Principal Investigator: Andreas Frick
Undergraduate Fellow Project: Exploring neocortical alterations in rodent models and human iPSC-derived neurons in autism
Autism is a multifactorial neurodevelopmental condition characterized by deficits in social communication and repetitive or restrictive behaviors. Atypical sensory experience affects 90 percent of autistic individuals. In this project, we will explore the neurophysiological basis of tactile sensory abnormalities in autism, extrapolating alterations in neuronal excitability at the single cell level, and examining the influence of these changes at the behavioral level. This will be done using well-characterized rodent models of autism and a multitude of techniques including ex vivo and in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry and fluorescence microscopy for neural reconstruction and morphological examination of neuronal processes, and an array of behavioral tests evaluating sensory abnormalities in autism models. Furthermore, to translate the findings from rodent models to preclinical human models, we will investigate alterations in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived human cortical neurons from patients with idiopathic autism and CRISPR-induced autism mutation. In parallel, we will investigate the therapeutic potential of our mechanism-based targets. Along with gaining hands-on experience in these neuroscientific techniques, the student will gain exposure to the process of culturing human neurons, and learn methods to analyze and quantify their experimental data.