Staff and Trainees

Leat S. Perez, B.A.

Leat S. Perez, B.A., is a Clinical Research Coordinator. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. Leat has experience in working on clinical studies of ASD, including clinical recruitment and measurements of social attention and social motivation in ASD. Leat previously served as a Research Assistant at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she worked on brain imaging studies for children with ASD and intellectual disabilities.

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Marjorie Risman, M.A.

Marjorie Risman, M.A., is a Senior Research Coordinator & Project Manager at the University of Pennsylvania. Her responsibilities have included recruiting research study participants; creating, managing and querying study databases using a variety of software; and interacting with university regulatory offices. She previously served in similar capacities at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

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Ellie Tarlow, Ph.D.

Ellie Tarlow, Ph.D., has now joined the ASPE team to work on neurexin mutations in Drosophila. As a graduate student in the Jongens lab Ellie worked on studying metabolism in a Drosophila model of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). This project is particularly relevant on a translational level given that FXS is the most common heritable form of intellectual impairment and the leading genetic cause of autism. In addition to behavioral, cognitive, and physical abnormalities, the clinical literature suggests that individuals with FXS show signs of metabolic dysfunction. Ellie’s work on this model lead to the discovery of defects energy stores, several metabolites, feeding behavior and in mitochondrial metabolism. Her studies opened up a new avenue of research that is important to pursue to fully understand Fragile X Syndrome.

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Janine Lamonica, Ph.D.

Janine Lamonica, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Fellow working on mouse models of NRXN1. She received her PhD in Genetics and Gene Regulation from the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Sponsored by a postdoctoral fellowship from the RettSyndrome.Org, Janine previously studied the pathogenic mechanisms of Rett syndrome and uncovered novel therapeutic approaches to treat the disorder. She has years of experience developing mouse models and carrying out molecular, cellular and neurobehavioral studies.

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Jing Zhang, MHS

Jing Zhang, MHS, is a PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She received her Master of Health Science in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2016. She works on human genetics projects about autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Jing is interested in genetic epidemiology research in ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Kyra Levy, M.S.

Kyra Levy, M.S., is a Neuroscience graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania working towards her Ph.D. in Tom Jongens’ lab. She previously received her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University, and her Master’s degree in Neuroscience at Drexel University where she studied the involvement of the orexin/hypocretin system in cocaine self-administration in rats. In the Jongens lab, Kyra will be studying how mutations in Neurexin may affect sensory responses, sleep and circadian rhythm, and social behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster.

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