- PhD Candidate, Epidemiology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, 2017
- MS, Social Work, Columbia University School of Social Work, 2013
- BA, Psychology, San Francisco State University, 2007
Research Interests/Current Projects:
Natalie is interested in looking at the etiology of mental illness through an epigenetic framework. Environment affects the epigenome, which then activates or deactivates genes on one’s DNA. Research is beginning to delve into this relationship between environment and more severe mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar Affective Disorder. Additionally, research into some psychiatric medications is showing how these medications are acting on epigenetic biomarkers of individuals with these illnesses. This leads to exciting questions regarding which mechanisms are at work in these medications and their long term effects on individuals with severe mental illness.
What brought you to VCU and/or Public Health:
Natalie has always been interested in research, and while studying Social Work she realized how inextricably linked it was with Public Health and Epidemiology. Epigenetics of mental illness appears to be a bridge to bring together these fields, due to the fact that Social Work strives to uncover environmental, social and other inequalities. These very inequalities impact the environment and thus have the capability of modifying the epigenome and activating certain health outcomes.
Hobbies or an interesting factoid:
Photography, choral singing, music, playing classical piano, traveling internationally, modern exhibition art, Sci Fi movies, hiking and camping.