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Jessica J. Walsh, Ph.D.

ASD Researchers at UNC

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Dr. Jessica Walsh is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology in the UNC School of Medicine. Her lab focuses on gaining an improved understanding of the biological basis of behavior using a multi-level approach to elucidate the molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying motivated social behavior. The goal of Dr. Walsh’s research is to uncover how neural systems govern social interactions and what alterations occur in disease states to inform the development of novel therapeutics or treatment strategies.

One of the major focuses of the Walsh lab is on understanding how genetic mutations, as well as experience, lead to circuit adaptations that govern impaired behavior seen in mouse models for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her team’s systems-level analysis includes 1) modeling these disorders with well-described genetic markers, 2) defining causal relationships between activity within discrete anatomical structures in the brain that are critical to the physiology of the symptom under investigation (e.g. sociability), 3) performing deep characterization of the physiological profiles of these circuits and using that information to target specific receptors or molecules that may not have been considered for the treatment of specific ASD symptoms.