The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
The Goetzl lab focuses on translational research in perinatal brain injury. Specifically, we explore mechanisms of fetal brain alterations related to three major areas of exposure: 1) Hypoxia/Ischemia 2) Viral infections such as Zika and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and 3) Exposure to psychoactive drugs and medications commonly taken by women of childbearing age, especially selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), marijuana (THC), opiates, and amphetamines. Typically we utilize either clinical specimens collected from pregnant women or neonates or, in collaboration, preclinical specimens collected from non-human primates, ovine or rodent models. Our testing platform is based on a novel innovation discovered and patented by Dr. Goetzl that fetal neuronally derived exosomes/extracellular vesicles (ECVs) can be isolated from both maternal and neonatal serum or plasma samples. This allows a non-invasive window into the intracellular alterations associated with the exposures of interest. Typically we partner with clinicians who have existing samples from prospective cohorts or clinical trials so that we can link changes in ECV biomarkers with clinically relevant outcomes such as imaging (MRI) results or neurobehavioral outcomes. Graduate student projects might focus on a specific protein, mitochondrial or miRNA marker to determine its potential for detecting injury or drug effects. End products of projects might include predictive clinical tests that would either identify a population requiring treatment, discover new therapeutic targets, or provide prognostic information for parents and clinicians.
Education & Training
M.D. - UCSF - 1993