University of California, Irvine
356A Med Surge II
Mail Code: 4625
Irvine, CA 92697
The research of Dr. Alachkar focuses on understanding the neurobiology of neurological and psychiatric disorders and identifying therapeutic target for optimal treatment.
1- Her research direction focuses on how aversive conditions during pregnancy such as famine, malnutrition, and stress disrupt fetal development and program the susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and autism. Dr. Alachkar is investigating potential therapies by using an epigenetic model of schizophrenia that involves disrupting on-carbon metabolisms during gestation. As part of this direction, she is also studying the neurobiological mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of trauma, by examining how trauma exposure during pregnancy induces depression in the offspring and reprograms the brain metabolomics and transcriptomics.
2- Dr. Alachkar's second research direction is to dissect the role of the brain circuits involving the neuropeptides oxytocin and neuropeptide melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) in cognition and social behaviors. In particular, she is investigating the role of oxytocin-MCH circuit in behaviors related to social recognition, maternal behavior and postpartum resilience/depression. She is also studying the roles of this circuit in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
3- The third research direction of Dr. Alachkar is to decipher the roles of primary cilia, previously unappreciated organelle, in brain function and a correlation between their dysregulation and brain cognitive dysfunctions. Particularly, she tries to elucidate why neurons need cilia and how cilia, once considered vestigial organelles, affect higher-order of brain functions, particularly cognition and space-time perception.
Key Research Areas:
Neural correlates of mental states, mechanisms of psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar
disorder, depression), cilia and cognition