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Christopher J. Stodgell, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Administrative: (585) 275-5734

Office: (585) 275-1902

Fax: (585) 244-2209

Biography

The goal of my research is to understand the environmental and genetic etiologies of developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders. Through collaborations with other programs interested in the genetics of autism, we have studied how specific candidate genes are related to autism spectrum disorders. Recently, Dr. Loisa Bennetto, a developmental neuropsychologist here at the University of Rochester, and I were awarded a grant from NIH to study how familial and heritable chemosensory (taste & smell) traits are in families with autism. Problems around feeding behavior are of major concern to families who have children with autism, thus understanding the basic neurobiology chemosensory behavioral and how genetic factors affect these traits can be important for developing new therapies and behaivoral strategies to help treat those with autism.

Another area of autism research that I actively pursuing is investigating how early embryonic exposures known to cause autism affects developmental gene expression. To model these affects, we are using the potent neuroteratogen, valproic acid (Depakote). Valproic acid is used clinically for the treatment of seizures, mania associated with bipolar disorder, migraines, and cancer. In humans, in utero exposure is associated with an increased risk for autism. Early embryonic exposure in rats, results in similar behavioral profiles and neuroanatomical deficits seen in human cases of autism. Thus, this makes valproic acid a useful tool to study the gene-environment interaction which may be critical to causing some cases of autism. Within an hour after exposure, we can measure changes in embryonic gene expression. By determining these alterations, we will be better able to understand the molecular pathways that are altered in autism.

In another study of gene-environment interaction in autism, we are focusing on populations of cases of autism that have known environmental exposures. These include fetal exposures to valproic acid, and another drug linked to autism, misoprostol. By studying the sequences of candidate genes from cases that have known exposures and autism, to those who were exposed with the disorder, we hope to identify genetic features that may increase ones susceptibility to autism.

A third area of research is investigating the teratogenic impact of uncontrolled type-II diabetes. Using rats who have been specifically bred to develop type-II diabetes, or who are resistant to the disorder, we are interested in how embryonic gene expression is different between the embryos with neurotube defects and intra-uterine growth restriction and those who appear to be developing normally.

Finally, we are also investigating the gene-environment interactions that may have an etiology in vulvar vestibulitis, a women's health condition that results in severe chronic pain of the vulva. Estimated to affect 13-15% of women, there are strong indication that genetics plays an important role in the disorder, in that women with fair, light complexions have a greater risk of developing the disorder. We have been investigating the role of genes involved in skin pigmentation and inflammation to the disorders, and identified polymorphic variants which increases the risk of diagnosis.

Research

The goal of my research is to understand the environmental and genetic etiologies of developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders. Through collaborations with other programs interested in the genetics of autism, we have studied how specific candidate genes are related to autism spectrum disorders. Recently, Dr. Loisa Bennetto, a developmental neuropsychologist here at the University of Rochester, and I were awarded a grant from NIH to study how familial and heritable chemosensory (taste & smell) traits are in families with autism. Problems around feeding behavior are of major concern to families who have children with autism, thus understanding the basic neurobiology chemosensory behavioral and how genetic factors affect these traits can be important for developing new therapies and behaivoral strategies to help treat those with autism.

Another area of autism research that I actively pursuing is investigating how early embryonic exposures known to cause autism affects developmental gene expression. To model these affects, we are using the potent neuroteratogen, valproic acid (Depakote). Valproic acid is used clinically for the treatment of seizures, mania associated with bipolar disorder, migraines, and cancer. In humans, in utero exposure is associated with an increased risk for autism. Early embryonic exposure in rats, results in similar behavioral profiles and neuroanatomical deficits seen in human cases of autism. Thus, this makes valproic acid a useful tool to study the gene-environment interaction which may be critical to causing some cases of autism. Within an hour after exposure, we can measure changes in embryonic gene expression. By determining these alterations, we will be better able to understand the molecular pathways that are altered in autism.

In another study of gene-environment interaction in autism, we are focusing on populations of cases of autism that have known environmental exposures. These include fetal exposures to valproic acid, and another drug linked to autism, misoprostol. By studying the sequences of candidate genes from cases that have known exposures and autism, to those who were exposed with the disorder, we hope to identify genetic features that may increase ones susceptibility to autism.

A third area of research is investigating the teratogenic impact of uncontrolled type-II diabetes. Using rats who have been specifically bred to develop type-II diabetes, or who are resistant to the disorder, we are interested in how embryonic gene expression is different between the embryos with neurotube defects and intra-uterine growth restriction and those who appear to be developing normally.

Finally, we are also investigating the gene-environment interactions that may have an etiology in vulvar vestibulitis, a women's health condition that results in severe chronic pain of the vulva. Estimated to affect 13-15% of women, there are strong indication that genetics plays an important role in the disorder, in that women with fair, light complexions have a greater risk of developing the disorder. We have been investigating the role of genes involved in skin pigmentation and inflammation to the disorders, and identified polymorphic variants which increases the risk of diagnosis.

Credentials

Faculty Appointments

Education

1989
BA | University of Kansas
Arts & Sciences

1995
MS | University of Kansas
Pharmacology

1996
PhD | University of Kansas
Pharmacology

Awards

2003 - 2008
NIH Loan Repayment Program
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

2001
Wilson Publication Award for Outstanding Publication
Sponsor: Teratology Society

1999
Roland D. Ciaranello M.D. Award for Research in Basic Research
Sponsor: National Alliance for Autism Research

1998
James G. Wilson Award in Teratology for Outstanding Postdoctoral Research
Sponsor: Teratology Society

1997
National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders Young Investigator Award
Sponsor: NARSAD

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Patents

Title: Genetic Polymorphisms which are Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder
U.S. Serial #: 09/850,258
Filed: May 07, 2001
Invented By: DeniseFiglewicz, SusanHyman, JenniferIngram-Ross, PatriciaRodier, ChristopherStodgell

Title: Genetic Polymorphisms Which are Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders
U.S. Serial #: 09/095,117
Filed: Jun 10, 1998
Invented By: DeniseFiglewicz, SusanHyman, JenniferIngram-Ross, PatriciaRodier, ChristopherStodgell

Publications

Journal Articles

6/2016
McAleavey SA, Parker KJ, Ormachea J, Wood RW, Stodgell CJ, Katzman PJ, Pressman EK, Miller RK. "Shear Wave Elastography in the Living, Perfused, Post-Delivery Placenta." Ultrasound in medicine & biology.. 2016 Jun 0; 42(6):1282-8. Epub 2016 Mar 19.

7/2015
Falsetta ML, Foster DC, Woeller CF, Pollock SJ, Bonham AD, Haidaris CG, Stodgell CJ, Phipps RP. "Identification of novel mechanisms involved in generating localized vulvodynia pain." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology.. 2015 Jul 0; 213(1):38.e1-12. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

3/2015
Foster DC, Falsetta ML, Woeller CF, Pollock SJ, Song K, Bonham A, Haidaris CG, Stodgell CJ, Messing SP, Iadarola M, Phipps RP. "Site-specific mesenchymal control of inflammatory pain to yeast challenge in vulvodynia-afflicted and pain-free women." Pain.. 2015 Mar 0; 156(3):386-96.

Books & Chapters

1997
Chapter Title: Severe behavior problems among people with developmental disabilities.
Book Title: Ellis' Handbook of mental deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research
Author List: Schroeder, SR, Tessel, RE, Loupe, PS, & Stodgell, CJ.
Edited By: W. Maclean
Published By: L.E. Erlbaum Associates1997 in Hillsdale, NJ

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