Biochemistry Graduate Student
Christy Craig earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from The University of Tulsa in 2009 and is currently a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of Tulsa. Christy is the Lead Biochemical Student Researcher for the Tulsa Institute of Trauma Abuse and Neglect.
Christy’s research focuses on genetic variants of the 5-HTTLPR promoter region of the serotonin transporter SLC6A4 gene. Changes in SLC6A4 alter the expression and/or function of serotonin and serotonin receptors. These changes can have important clinical implications. This study aims to determine whether genetic variants, specifically the 5-HTTLPR insertion/deletion polymorphisms of the SLC6A4 gene, affect a person’s susceptibility to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following exposure to a sexually traumatic event.
Christy is currently working on optimizing a noninvasive buccal (cheek) cell DNA extraction technique in order to determine an individual’s serotonin transporter genotype in a low cost and noninvasive manner. Studies on variance in serotonin transporter expression will further refine our understanding of the neurobiology of PTSD and the relationship of the serotonin transporter to this disease. Results of this nature could assist in prevention and treatment of this severe disease. It could be critical to combine information from genotype, clinical features and treatment response of PTSD, and neurobiological measures (i.e. frontal/amygdala connectivity from fMRI analysis) in attempts to trace the origin of PTSD to a neurobiological determinant.