Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Division of Life Sciences
 

Lab Members

 Marco Azaro - Research Associate    

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 - Graduate Student

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 is a graduate student in the Molecular Biosciences/Microbiology and Molecular Genetics program. 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. 

 

          Christine Gwin - Research Assistant & Clinical Coordinator

Christine is a Clinical Coordinator for the New Jersey Language and Autism Genetics Study (NJLAGS). She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Genetics from Rutgers University in 2014. As a student at Rutgers, Christine worked on research projects involving DNA repair pathway selection and genome stability. She plans to continue her graduate education in human genetics and ultimately wants to pursue a Ph.D.

 

                    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.

 

Karen Law

Karen Law - Research Assistant

Karen Law graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Psychology and Genetics and completed her senior thesis working on the NJLAGS. Currently, she is happy to continue her involvement in the project as a laboratory/technical assistant. Karen has also been lucky to train at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Disability Rights New Jersey, the Yale Child Study Center, and the Midland School. Karen is currently working towards her Master's Degree in the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and hopes to become a special education teacher in the future.

 

Bill Manley

    Bill Manley - Graduate Student

Bill graduated summa cum laude from King’s College with a B.S. in Biology and Neuroscience in 2007. He graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine with a M.S. in Neuroscience in 2009. He is a graduate student in the Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program in the Cell and Developmental Biology program. Bill’s project studies the relationship between schizophrenia and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. He is using stem cells as a model to characterize miRNAs that may be contributing to the development of schizophrenia. Outside of lab, Bill is an avid hockey fan and has strong opinions about the Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

 

Jaime Messenger

      Jaime Messenger - Senior Lab Tech   

  Jaime graduated in 1998 with a B.S. in Biotechnology and a concentration in Microbiology from Cook College. She continued to work in the microbiology lab where she did her senior lab work in Dr. Gerben Zylstra’s lab. In 1999-2001, she did DNA sequencing for the Ornithology Department at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. In 2001, Dr. Zylstra recommended working in Dr. Linda Brzustowicz's lab and she has been here ever since.

 

Brenda Patel

Brenda Patel - Clinical Coordinator

 Brenda is one of the Clinical Coordinators for the New Jersey Language and Autism Genetics Study (NJLAGS) and is actively involved in all aspects of this project since July 2012. Brenda received a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Rutgers University in May of 2012. During her undergraduate career, Brenda was involved in the Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships Program where she served as a teacher's assistant in a pre-school classroom in New Brunswick, NJ. In addition, Brenda was a fieldworker at the Douglas Developmental Disabilities Center in which she applied various Applied Behavior Analysis skills in a secondary level classroom. Brenda also served as research assistant in the Educational Psychology Department at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University from 2010 to 2012 working on a research project that involved interpreting middle school students' class work and assignments on understanding aquatic ecosystems. Brenda is a certified New Jersey State School Counselor grades Pre-K to 12 and received her Masters of Education Degree from Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education in May of 2014. Currently, Brenda is a high school counselor for a district in Middlesex County. 

 

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. 

 


Research Associates:

Yuli Fradkin, M.D.

 


 

Former Lab Members:

Zena Fermano-Said

Brittany Greene

Abby Hare

Anthony Marcketta

Michael Moreau

Joshua Pennino

Carmen Ramirez

Kathleen Tobin

Ray Zimmerman