Davis Lab Members and Affiliates

 

Lea K. Davis, PhD
Associate 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!

Lea Davis – Curriculum Vitae

 

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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.

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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

Maria joined the Davis Lab in 2018 as a Visiting Research Fellow, thanks to a four-year Sir Henry Wellcome Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and now works as a Research Instructor. Maria received a B.Sc in Psychology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), an M.Sc. in Neuropsychology from the University of Bristol (UK), and a Ph.D in Psychology from Cardiff University (UK). The aims of her research are to establish the etiological mechanisms underlying risk for major neuropsychiatric disorders. Maria is especially interested in how the interaction of multiple genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of psychiatric symptomatology, using data from the Electronic Health Records and large biobanks.

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.

 

 

Annika Faucon
PhD Student
Davis Lab/ Cox Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Annika is a Human Genetics PhD student at Vanderbilt University. She is co-mentored by Lea Davis and Nancy Cox. Annika is interested in metabolic disease, especially in shared genetic architecture between related traits, like diabetes and chronic kidney disease and between inflammatory conditions and pain.

 

 

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.

 

Lindsay Breidenbach
PhD Student
Davis Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Lindsay is a human genetics student at Vanderbilt University. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Biochemistry and joined the lab in 2020. She is interested in studying links between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and mental health. She also hopes to use genetic modelling to find precursors of IBD.

 

 

James Jaworski, MPH
Statistical Genetic Analyst
Davis Lab/Edwards Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Jim’s interests are statistical and genetic epidemiology and population genetics.

 

 

 

KimberlynEllis

Kimberlyn Ellis
PhD Student
Davis Lab/Aldrich Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Kimberlyn (Kim) is a Ph.D. student in the Human Genetics Training Program. She graduated from Spelman College in 2019 with a degree in biology and afterwards spent a year at Brown doing neonatal pulmonology research. She joined the lab in 2021 as a co-mentored student of both Lea Davis and Melinda Aldrich. Kim’s research interests include gene-environment interactions, psychosocial determinants, minority health, and health disparities. In another life, Kim would own an apothecary shop and be a Pilates instructor.

 

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Taralynn Mack
PhD Student
Davis Lab/Aldrich Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Tara is a current Human Genetics PhD student at Vanderbilt and is co-mentored by Dr. Alexander Bick. Tara also researched with the Davis Lab during her undergraduate years and graduated from Vanderbilt in 2020 with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Psychology. She is broadly interested in the genetic contributions to complex health conditions and has a particular interest in psychiatric disease.

 

Chloe-Cevan-headshot-684x1024Chloe Cevan
Genetic Counseling Candidate
Davis Lab
Vanderbilt School of Medicine

Chloe Cevan is a Genetic Counseling Candidate in her second year of the Vanderbilt University Genetic Counseling program. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2021 with her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology: Genetics and Biotechnology, where she spent two years investigating genetic contributions to cardiac arrhythmias in the London Lab. Her research interests include community-engagement frameworks and exploring the interface of genomics and LGBTQIA2S+ advocacy.

 

 

Vandy-225Julian Delgado
Undergraduate
Davis Lab
Vanderbilt University

Julian is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt studying Computer Science. He joined the Davis Lab in 2022 as a SyBBURE Searle Undergraduate Research Fellow. Julian is interested in the epigenetic mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders, with a focus on Alcohol Use Disorder. He enjoys rock climbing, playing basketball, and listening to music in his free time.

 

 

Past Affiliates

kyera_2019Ky’Era Actkins
PhD Student, Graduated May 2022
Davis Lab
Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Ky’Era was a PhD student at Meharry Medical College. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016 and joined the lab in 2017. Her work focused on understanding the complex genetics and clinical epidemiology of women’s health in diverse populations.

 

 

 

IMG_1319Julia Sealock
PhD Student, Graduated May 2022
Davis Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Julia was 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 used genetic models to understand onset, severity, and pharmacogenetics of neuropsychiatric disorders.

 

Goleva_Slavina_headshotSlavina (Slavi) Goleva
PhD Student, Graduated May 2022
Davis Lab
Vanderbilt University

Slavi was 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 used genetic models to understand the underlying nature of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.

 

 

indiaIndia Reddy, MD PhD
Resident Physician
Davis Lab
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

India is a research track psychiatry resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She graduated from the Vanderbilt’s Medical Scientist Training Program in 2018 after completing a Ph.D. in neuroscience and her medical doctorate. In the Davis Lab, she investigated the genetic and environmental precursors to externalizing disorders in relation to defining specific genotypic and phenotypic subtypes.

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.

 

Donovan_TaylorDonovan Taylor
Undergraduate Intern, 2018-2020
Davis Lab

Donovan joined the Davisn Lab in 2018. He studied Biochemistry and Computer Science, with the intention of pursuing 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.

 

Katya Khramtsova

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. 

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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

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.

 

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Raphael Heldman
Undergraduate
University of California, Berkley

Raph worked with Dr. Davis during a summer Undergraduate Research Experience at the University of Chicago.

 

 

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 the University of California San Francisco working with Dr. Tony Capra!

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

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Genevieve Jean-Pierre
High School Student Intern
Davis Lab
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Genevieve joined the Davis lab in January 2020, while she was a student at MLK High School and the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. In the Davis Lab, Genevieve interned under Ms. Ky’era Actkins on a project about genetic correlations between Body Mass Index and PCOS in both European and African American populations. She hopes to continue computational biology in the future in order to expand the understanding and treatment of health issues in underrepresented communities. In Fall 2021, she began her undergraduate studies at Duke University.