Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Division of Life Sciences
 

Lab Members

 Marco Azaro - Assistant Research Professor   

Marco has an extensive background in bioinformatics techniques related to the design and analysis of experiments that probe the association between genotype data and complex phenotypes.  In particular, he has written software to: (1) select optimal tag SNPs for multiplexed genotyping based on the thermodynamic suitability of their contextual sequences; (2) design probes and PCR primers for multiplexed amplification and genotyping of both SNP and microsatellite markers for various platforms (Luminex, CEQ, microtransponders, etc.); (3) perform automated background correction, clustering and calling of genotypes given raw signal data; (4) identify Mendelian errors in pedigree-based genotype data and perform automated correction of the minimal subset of genotypes required to maintain consistency.  He has also been involved in the cleaning, systematization and curation of clinical data for both the NJLAGS (New Jersey Language and Autism Genetics Study) and the multi-site CGSMD (Center for Genomic Studies on Mental Disorders) project which is a collaboration between Rutgers University, Washington University at St. Louis and the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (ISI) to harmonize the NIMH's genotypic and phenotypic data relating to psychiatric disorders.

 

Linda Brzustowicz - Principal Investigator

 

 Gillian Silver Davis

Gillian Silver Davis - Associate Research Scientist

Gillian graduated magna cum laude from Rider University with a B.S. in Biology in 2012 and from Mercer County Community College with an A.S. in Medical Laboratory Technology in 2009. She completed her Ph.D. in the Rutger's Microbiology and Molecular Genetics program in 2017. Her research focuses on using bioinformatics to evaluate regions flanking linkage peaks with the goal of identifying additional risk alleles for susceptibility to schizophrenia.  When she is not in the Brzustowicz lab, Gillian competes nationally in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and recently became World Champion at purple belt in both her weight class and the open weight class divisions.

 

Judy Flax

           Judy Flax - Associate Research Professor  

Judy is an associate research professor in the Department of Genetics. Her clinical and research interests have focused on the study of language development and related cognitive processes in normal and impaired populations with an emphasis on autism spectrum disorders.  Her early career as a clinician has greatly influenced and aided her more current research career in allowing her to realistically identify and then carefully define the behavioral characteristics used to develop behavioral biomarkers for autism spectrum disorders as well as oral and written language impairments. Some past research endeavors include defining subtypes of developmental language disorders at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Isabelle Rapin, M.D.).  At the Rutgers Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience in Newark, she investigated the genetic basis of specific language impairments, the integrated study of behavioral, functional, and structural brain development in infants, young children, and children with autism, and identified early predictors of later language and learning problem. As a licensed speech pathologist and learning consultant, she has over 30 years of clinical and research experience in the areas of language-based learning disabilities and autism. Before joining Rutgers University, she held positions at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montclair State University, and worked in several clinical settings in New Jersey, New York, and Florida. 

 

 

                    Jared Hayter - Lab Manager            

Jared graduated from Dickinson College in 1996 with a BS in Biology and began working as a lab tech in the Brzustowicz lab in the Neuroscience department at Rutgers Newark, studying sequence variation in the rat tyrosine hydroxylase gene. Jared followed Linda when she joined the Genetics Department at Rutgers New Brunswick, assisting in genotyping projects identifying NOS1AP as a schizophrenia susceptibility locus. He currently serves as lab manager, curating a growing DNA collection, overseeing the operation of genetic analysis equipment and maintaining regulatory compliance.

  

Sherri Wilson

Sherri Wilson - Research Associate and Clinical Coordinator

Sherri is a research associate involved in the Combined Analysis of Psychiatric Studies (CAPS) Project aimed towards harmonizing various versions of the Diagnostic Interview for Genetics Studies (DIGS) and participates in the NIMH Repository and Genomics Resource (NRGR) project. Additionally, she is a clinical coordinator for the New Jersey Language and Autism Genetics Study (NJLAGS). Sherri holds a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University.