Davis Lab Members and Affiliates
Lea K. Davis, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Biomedical Informatics
Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Work in our lab employs a population level approach to investigate the genetic basis of a wide range of complex traits and disease phenotypes. Our research aims to discover how polygenic risk, rare variant risk, and environment interact to contribute to common psychiatric diagnoses and their comorbidities. To accomplish this goal, we apply genomic and bioinformatic approaches to biobank data and phenotypes extracted from the electronic health record. In addition to my work in psychiatric genomics, I have a long-standing interest in research ethics, mentoring, and community organizing. I strive to create an inclusive environment in my lab and am enthusiastic about mentoring and teaching!
When I am not working, I am usually cooking, gardening, reading, community organizing, or out skating with the Nashville Junior Roller Derby for which I serve as the Executive Director!
Don Hucks, MS
Senior Project Manager Davis Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Before joining the Davis Lab, Don worked at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Innovative Translational Research Shared Resource. Prior to coming to Nashville, he was at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he investigated the molecular evolution of domesticated transposons in mammalian genomes. At the Davis Lab, he provides support on multiple projects and facilitates day to day lab administration.
Peter Straub, MS Application Developer Davis Lab/Cox Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Peter previously worked at Vanderbilt’s Center for Human Genetics Research (CHGR) as a database developer and analyst in Will Bush’s lab. Later, he worked in Bing Zhang’s proteogenomics lab in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. Now, Peter has returned to his old CHGR stomping grounds, now the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, as a developer/analyst in the Davis and Cox labs.
Maria Niarchou, PhD Research Instructor Davis Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Following a degree in psychology at the University of Athens in Greece, an MSc in Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol and a Ph.D. at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University, Maria was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Post-Doctoral Fellowship.
The aims of her 4- year fellowship project are to examine whether and how neurodevelopmental deficits and measures of genetic risk contribute to the development of schizophrenia in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS) as well as develop her expertise in the statistical analysis of genetic data. Under the supervision of Dr. Davis, Maria will spend the final part of her fellowship in examining the genetic mechanisms that underlie the development of major neuropsychiatric disorders using data from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Biobank (BioVU).
Julia Sealock PhD Student Davis Lab Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Julia is a Human Genetics PhD student at Vanderbilt University. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in biochemistry and joined the Davis lab in 2018 through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program. She is interested in using genetic models to understand onset, severity, and pharmacogenetics of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Ky'Era Actkins PhD Student Davis Lab Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Ky’Era is a PhD student at Meharry Medical College. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016 and joined the lab in 2017. Her work focuses on understanding the complex genetics and clinical epidemiology of women’s health in diverse populations.
Slavina (Slavi) Goleva PhD Student Davis Lab Vanderbilt University
Slavi is a Molecular Physiology and Biophysics PhD student at Vanderbilt University. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in biology and joined the Davis lab in 2018. She is interested in using genetic models to understand the underlying nature of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.
Kritika Singh PhD Student Davis/Hodges Lab Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Kritika is a human genetics Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She joined the lab in 2019 and is a co-mentored student between the Davis and the Hodges lab. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in genetics. She is interested in understanding the shared genetic architecture between different polygenic and psychiatric disorders.
Allison Lake Medical Student Davis Lab Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Allie is a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Vanderbilt. After graduating from Haverford College with degrees in math and computer science, she worked in software development and later in computational genetics research before arriving at Vanderbilt. She looks forward to continuing to integrate her research interests in psychiatric genomics in the Davis lab with her clinical interest in psychiatry.
Donovan Taylor Undergraduate Intern Davis Lab
Donovan is a rising junior undergraduate student at Vanderbilt from Oklahoma City, OK. Studying Biochemistry and Computer Science, he intends to pursue graduate school to impact the field of computational genetics. Furthermore, he is a member of the upcoming Vanderbilt band “Karen The Computer”, Vandy recording studio, and a few different volunteering organizations on campus. He enjoys cooking, playing bass, and finding interesting new music.
Jessica Dennis, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow Cox Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dr. Dennis started her postdoctoral fellowship in the Cox Lab in 2016. A genetic epidemiologist by training, she is interested in the application of epidemiological methods to biobank data. She is exploring the use of longitudinal data in electronic medical records (e.g., repeated lab values) as biomarkers of disease progression and its integration with genetic data. She is especially interested in neurological phenotypes. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Jessica completed her doctoral training at the University of Toronto, where she was a fellow in the interdisciplinary CIHR-STAGE program (Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategic Training for Advanced Genetic Epidemiology). Dr. Dennis now has her own research group at the University of British Columbia.
Tara Mack Undergraduate Intern Davis Lab
Tara graduated from Vanderbilt in the class of 2020! She earned her degree in Biological Sciences with Honors with a minor in Spanish. She is now a Graduate Student at Vanderbilt University. Outside of school, she is a site leader for Alternative Spring Break, a member of Vanderbilt Concert Choir, and the service chair for her sorority. She enjoys singing and playing guitar, spending time outside, and exploring Nashville with friends.
Ekaterina (Katya) Khramtsova, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow Barbara Stranger and Lea Davis Lab University of Chicago
Katya’s work focused on characterizing the contribution of the sex chromosomes and sexually dimorphic expression quantitative trait loci to sex-biased neuropsychiatric disease polygenic risk. Her work in the Stranger laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Davis focused on understanding the sexually dimorphic architecture of Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. Katya is now a Senior Scientist at Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
Evan Beiter Undergraduate Washington University in St. Louis
Evan joined the Davis and Stranger labs during an undergraduate summer research experience at the University of Chicago and enjoyed his project so much that he has continued to work on it from his home institution of WashU! His work examined evidence of selection across nine neuropsychiatric traits. Evan is now a medical student at Harvard Medical School.
Clare Keenan Undergraduate in Robert Field Lab Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Clare worked with Dr. Davis in Chicago as a high school student. While in the lab, she studied the genetic architecture of Tourette Syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She graduated from MIT in 2020 and is now pursuing graduate studies at the University of Chicago.
Raphael Heldman Undergraduate University of California, Berkley
Raph worked with Dr. Davis during a summer Undergraduate Research Experience at the University of Chicago. He is now a Research Associate at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.
Evonne McArthur Undergraduate University of North Carolina
Evonne worked with Dr. Davis during a summer Undergraduate Research Experience at the University of Chicago. She is now an MSTP student at Vanderbilt working with Dr. Tony Capra!
Vassily Trubetskoy Graduate Student University of Michigan
Vasa worked with Drs. Cox and Davis on methods for the analysis of exome sequence data at The University of Chicago. He then went on to earn a Masters degree in Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. He is now working with Dr. Stephan Ripke as a Research Scientist at the Berlin Institute of Health.
Annmarie Allos Davis Lab Harpeth Hall School
Annmarie worked with Dr. Davis while she was a high school student at Harpeth Hall. She worked on applying MetaXcan approaches to identifying the genes associated with Tourette Syndrome. She is now an Undergraduate Student at Dartmouth University.
Oksana Litardo Undergraduate Research Assistant Davis Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Oksana worked in the Davis lab as an Undergraduate at Vanderbilt. Her work focused on identifying kids with autism spectrum disorders using electronic health record data. She is now a teacher working with kids with autism in Ecuador.