Davis Lab Members and Affiliates
Lea K. Davis, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Vanderbilt University Medical Center
During the past fifteen years, Dr. Lea Davis has researched complex behavioral phenotypes and earned degrees in both psychology (BS) and human genetics (PhD). As a postdoctoral fellow, she trained with Dr. Nancy Cox at the University of Chicago where she mastered statistical and computational approaches to large complex data sets. As a postdoctoral fellow, then as a research assistant professor funded by a KL2 career development award at the University of Chicago, she organized and lead several multi-center analytic efforts on behalf of three neuropsychiatric consortia in TS, OCD, and ASD. Dr. Davis has extensive expertise in working with large data sets and conducting a variety of genome-wide analyses such as GWAS, population-based analysis, polygenic analysis, family-based and SNP-based heritability analysis, and analysis of exomic sequence data across multiple phenotypes. Findings from her work have demonstrated that TS and OCD are highly polygenic and are genetically correlated (r2 = 0.4). Additionally, she has demonstrated that SNPs modestly associated with TS, OCD, and ASDs (p< 0.001) are enriched for variants associated with gene expression in the brain and that the heritability of OCD is concentrated among variants with minor allele frequency > 30%. These findings are informing subsequent polygenic analyses, pathway analyses, and rare variant analyses and have significantly impacted the field.
When she is not working, Dr. Davis enjoys cooking, knitting, hiking, yoga, and most importantly advocating on issues of social justice. Keep an eye on our lab blog to see how we are also using our research to advocate on behalf of inclusion and neurodiversity!
1999-2003: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic, University of Alabama
2003-2004: Research Assistant, Biological Sciences Department, University of Alabama
2004-2009: Graduate Research Assistant, Interdisciplinary Genetics Program, University of Iowa
2009-2011: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois (Chicago)
2010-2013: Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago
2013-2015: Research Associate (Assistant Professor), Department of Medicine, University of Chicago
2015 – present: Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Genetic Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Academic Honors and Awards:
2003 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award, Psychology Department, University of Alabama
2003 Elected member of Phi Beta Kappa, University of Alabama
2008 Scholarship Travel Award, Complex Human Genetics Workshop, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
2007-2009NIH Predoctoral T32 Training Grant Recipient, University of Iowa
2013 Early Career Investigator Program Travel Award, International Society of Psychiatric Genetics
2013 Early Career Investigator Award Finalist, International Society of Psychiatric Genetics
2013 Young Investigator Travel Award, Molecular Psychiatry Association
2013 Early Career Investigator Outstanding Oral Presentation Award, International Society of Psychiatric Genetics
2014-2015 KL2 Clinical and Translational Science Career Development Award, University of Chicago
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 Sir Henry Wellcome Post-Doctoral Fellow 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. She is excited to work on understanding the complex genetics of health disparities!
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.
Ekaterina (Katya) Khramtsova, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow Barbara Stranger Lab University of Chicago
Katya’s work focuses 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. Lea Davis focuses on understanding the sexually dimorphic architecture of Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Jessica Dennis, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow Cox Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Jessica started her postdoctoral fellowship in the Cox Lab in 2016. A genetic epidemiologist by training, Jessica 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).
Annmarie Allos Davis Lab Harpeth Hall School
Annmarie is a high school student at the Harpeth Hall school here in Nashville. Through a program at her school, she is working with the Davis Lab to identify key genes that predispose an individual to developing Tourette Syndrome. She is hopeful that her work in the Davis Lab will help her understand what it means to be a scientist and aid her in determining which field of science she wishes to enter in college and beyond.
Tara Mack Undergraduate Intern Davis Lab
Tara is a sophomore undergraduate at Vanderbilt from Houston, TX. She is studying biochemistry with a minor in Spanish, and plans to pursue graduate school for genetic research after graduation. 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.
Donovan Taylor Undergraduate Intern Davis Lab
Donovan is a first year 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.
Don Hucks, MS Lab 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.
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! He is examining evidence of selection systematically across nine neuropsychiatric traits.
Clare Keenan Undergraduate in Robert Field Lab Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Raphael Heldman Undergraduate University of California, Berkley
Evonne McArthur Undergraduate University of North Carolina
Vassily Trubetskoy Graduate Student University of Michigan
Sabrina Mitchell, PhD Research Fellow Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Oksana Litardo Undergraduate Research Assistant Davis Lab Department of Medicine Division of Genetic Medicine Vanderbilt University Medical Center