My Research Interests:
My research is focused on improving therapeutics for the treatment of autism. Using mice bred for their behavioral similarities to patients with autism spectrum disorders, we run behavioral assays with various pharmaceutical interventions to classify social dominance, preference or aversion to social novelty, and reversal learning capabilities, in hopes of identifying therapeutic compounds to alleviate the negative side effects of an autism diagnosis without sedating or inducing diabetes development in the patient. Additionally we measure alterations in neurotransmitter uptake, binding, and density to better understand how these behavioral phenotypes are mediated.
Why I’m Excited to Study Aging:
With aging being one of the greatest risk factors for many of the most commonly studied diseases, understanding what aging is and how it impacts the normal function of an organism is extremely relevant. The focus of my current research on a developmental disorder, autism spectrum disorder, which does not disappear with the end of adolescence, also comes with an increased incidence of age related diseases such as type II diabetes.
My Future Goals:
Do all of the science, and find all of the answers.
Awards and Honors:
- 2014-present Biology of Aging Training Grant, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, TX
- 2014 Walter R. Nicolai Award, The American Age Association, San Antonio, TX
- 2014 Student Achievement Award, Gerontological Society of America, Washington, D.C.
Orr ME, Garbarino VR, Salinas A, Buffenstein R. 2016. Extended postnatal brain development in the longest-lived rodent: prolonged maintenance of neotenous traits in the naked mole rat brain. Frontiers in Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00504
Garbarino VR, Orr ME, Rodriguez KA, Buffenstein R. 2015. Mechanisms of oxidative stress resistance in the brain: Lessons learned from hypoxia tolerant extremophilic vertebrates. Arch Biochem Biophy. 15(576): 8-16. Dio:10.1016/j.abb.2015.01.029. Review.
Orr ME, Garbarino VR, Salinas A, Buffenstein R. 2014. Sustained high levels of neuroprotective, high molecular weight, phosphorylated tau in the longest-lived rodent. Neurobiology of Aging. Ms. No.: NBA-14-562R2
Garbarino VR, Campbell JW, O’Brien J, Proctor HC, Dik B. 2013. Phthiraptera and Acari collected from 13 species of waterfowl from Alabama and Georgia. Southeastern Naturalist 12(2):413-426.