Laura W. Geben
Graduate Student, Pharmacology
I am a Pharmacology graduate student in the lab of Dr. Rebecca Ihrie where we study the contribution of neural stem cells to health and disease. More specifically, our lab investigates the role of neural stem cells in the development of different kinds of brain tumors. My project focuses on Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a genetic disorder characterized by the formation of benign tumors throughout the entire body. In the brain, these tumors are particularly dangerous and can cause life-threatening seizures, headaches, and learning disabilities. I study the signaling mechanisms in embryonic and postnatal neural stem cells that lead to tumor development. My goal is to create a timeline of TSC brain tumor formation to better understand when to therapeutically intervene in the clinic.
Clinically, I am interested in recognizing the consequences of TSC tumors in patients with a varying degree of symptoms and how to best manage a patient’s condition despite limited treatment options. My mentor is Dr. Robert Carson, a pediatric neurologist who studies a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including TSC. Shadowing Dr. Carson helps me tangibly appreciate the consequences of TSC on pediatric patients and their families to better inform my basic science research.