Rodney C. Samaco, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of MedicineNIH Director's Early Independence Award Recipient
Research focus: Fragile X syndrome; Tuberous sclerosis complex; social behavior in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders
The primary research interest of the Samaco lab is to identify and understand the key neuroanatomical and molecular determinants of social behavior using mouse models of syndromic autism. Social behavior is governed by both genetic and environmental factors, yet the genetic basis for normal social behavior remains poorly explored in spite of a need to better understand it for human health. Through the use of genetically engineered mouse models combined with neurobehavioral measurements and high-throughput molecular and biochemical approaches, Dr. Samaco studies the temporal requirement of syndromic autism-causing genes for normal social behavior, and aims to uncover the molecular changes that are responsible for social behavior abnormalities in specific neuronal populations. Such work will provide the foundation for future studies designed to improve social behavior phenotypes in humans by either genetic or pharmacological means.