Dr Irina Voineagu
Broadly, my research interests are in the area of molecular genetic mechanisms underlying human brain disorders. During my PhD at the University of Illinois in Chicago, I studied the role of DNA replication in trinucleotide repeat expansions, a form of genomic instability responsible for multiple neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders. Trinucleotide repeats, such as (CGG)n, (GAA)n, (CAG)n, have the common property to increase in length when transmitted from parents to offspring, a phenomenon mediated by DNA replication and recombination defects.
My PhD work demonstrated that unstable DNA repeats block replication fork progression in bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells by forming DNA-hairpins on the lagging strand (Voineagu et al. PNAS 2008), and investigated for the first time the cellular checkpoint responses to replication fork arrest at CGG repeats. This work led to a novel model of chromosomal fragility at CGG repeat sequences (Voineagu et al. Nature Struct. Mol. Biol 2009).
For postdoctoral research, I joined the Neurogenetics Department at UCLA, to investigate the molecular mechanisms of autism and intellectual disability, using transcriptome methods. My postdoctoral work led to the identification of a novel gene implicated in X-linked intellectual disability (Voineagu et al., Mol. Psychiatry 2011) and the characterisation of shared molecular pathways in autism post-mortem brain tissue (Voineagu et al. Nature 2011).
I started my own research group at UNSW in 2013. The ongoing work in my lab investigates the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying normal brain function and their perturbation in neurodevelopmental disorders, using a combination of functional genomic studies in human brain tissue and neuronal cell culture systems