Kimberly Huber, PhD
Dr. Kimberly Huber is a Professor of Neuroscience and Southwestern Medical Foundation Scholar in Biomedical Research. Dr. Huber obtained her PhD at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and pursued her postdoctoral studies at Brown University. She moved to UT Southwestern as an Assistant Professor in 2001.
The Huber lab seeks to understand mechanisms of synapse development and plasticity and in turn how this impacts function of cortical circuits in the normal rodent brain and in mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and intellectual disability. In our research, we focus on understanding the role of genes linked to human autism and intellectual disability that regulate mRNA transcription and translation in neurons. We focus on the MEF2 family of activity-dependent transcription factors and the regulators of translational control, FMRP and PTEN. A goal of this research is to determine mechanisms by which transcriptional and translational control regulate the experience-dependent development, plasticity and function of synapses and cortical circuits. In the course of pursuing these basic research questions, we reveal how loss of function of these disease-linked genes affect brain development and function to identify therapeutic targets.
We utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to address these research questions, incorporating state-of-the art electrophysiological, optogenetic and laser guided functional circuit mapping methods, together with imaging of genetically manipulated neuron populations. We also utilize biochemical and molecular methods to determine the cellular and molecular mechanisms of synapse and circuit function.
Dr. Huber recently served as Director for an NIH Collaborative Center for Fragile X Syndrome Research, focused on understanding and correcting sensory circuit dysfunction and associated sensory hypersensitivity, in Fragile X Syndrome, a common genetic cause of autism and intellectual disability caused by loss of function mutations in FMRP. Results from Center projects have successfully developed neurophysiological biomarkers, such as the EEG, that translate between mouse models and humans with Fragile X Syndrome and discovered circuit and synaptic mechanisms for the EEG phenotypes.
Dr. Huber recently received a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NINDS on her research into the sex-dependent mechanisms of cortical circuit dysfunction in mouse autism models. Other work in the Huber lab is funded through NICHD and the Simons Foundation for Autism Research Initiative.