- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 404-413-6279
- Location: Urban Life Building, Room 1122
- Professor, Psychology
- Associate Member, Neuroscience Institute
- Education: Ph.D., University of Florida, 2000
- Specialization: Clinical Neuropsychology
Dr. King was recently interviewed about her work for Georgia State University Research Magazine. Read the full interview by clicking here.
My research program investigates the interacting biopsychosocial factors that contribute to optimal outcomes following neurodevelopmental disruption. My team and I focus on what happens to the developing brain many years after brain injury/medical condition and how those events affect cognitive abilities across the lifespan. To understand the neural mechanisms underlying both cognitive and social-emotional abilities of individuals, we employ clinical neuropsychological testing as well as neuroimaging such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate white matter pathways and functional MRI (fMRI) to examine brain activation. The breadth of our research within this framework is demonstrated by our investigations into many neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., congenital heart disease, childhood traumatic brain injury). The depth of our contribution to science is evidenced by our clinical research examining longitudinal cognitive performance and innovative structural and functional neuroimaging with long-term survivors of pediatric brain tumors, funded by a Research Scholar Grant awarded by the American Cancer Society. I have extended this comprehensive program of research in many exciting ways by building strong multisite, collaborative teams.
One extension of this research focuses on identifying genetic diatheses that may predispose some survivors to experience more severe impairments following lifesaving neurotoxic treatments (e.g., radiation and/or chemotherapy), while others with similar disease characteristics (e.g., molecular subtype of tumor, radiation dose, age at treatment) are thriving. In an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Tobey McDonald, we examine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with chemoradiation-induced cognitive toxicities in childhood survivors of medulloblastoma. This study was funded by AFLAC Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA)’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center of Excellence and also by CHOA’s Center for Neurosciences Research. We have leveraged this pilot research to support multisite collaborations to cross-validate our findings of host whole-genome variations that are associated with cognitive outcomes. In addition, there is a significant need to identify socioeconomic contextual factors that are contributing to survivorship cognitive difficulties. We have planned a multisite project at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in GA, AL, and OH that will examine multifactorial socioeconomic context, clinical factors, and clinically relevant candidate SNPs using gene and RNA sequencing. Our team has expanded our program of research to examine socioeconomic and clinical contextual factors simultaneously with candidate SNPs in survivors of pediatric low-grade glioma, the most common childhood brain cancer. We currently lead this multisite collaboration with Children’s National Health System in DC that is funded by the PLGA Fund at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
Within this program of research, we are interested in identifying efficient screening batteries that are sensitive to subtle cognitive changes and may be used improve the standard quality of care. Early identification of individuals at risk for adverse long-term outcomes is critical. We are examining both traditional gold-standard clinical measures as well as computerized performance measures of core cognitive skills. These data also will guide the development of interventions to mitigate the severity of late effects and to optimize adaptive outcomes across the lifespan.
By integrating these unique and complementary data, our team science will accelerate advancements in individualized precision medicine of the future, resulting in greater prognostic abilities and enhanced interventions to mitigate neurotoxicities and enable survivors to thrive. Consistent with the STAR Act of 2018 and the Precision Medicine Initiative, our research will allow for early identification of individuals at risk for cognitive impairment, inform the development of risk-adapted chemotherapy and radiation regimens, and reduce cognitive impairment. Furthermore, it will provide individualized targets for cognitive and lifestyle interventions and help to mechanistically develop drugs designed to prevent, mitigate, and manage the severity of late effects. Such progress will optimize childhood brain tumor survivors’ cognitive abilities and adaptive outcomes and improve their overall health-related quality of life.
Many of my students have developed clinical neuropsychological evaluation skills and complementary research programs while contributing to these projects. See the video of our research team at the GSU/GA Tech Center for Advanced Brain Imaging, where we conduct our research.
I am committed to equity and inclusion in research, clinical care, and education – for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and for those who are underserved or otherwise vulnerable to poor outcomes and quality of life.
All of these rewarding collaborations build upon my interests of optimizing outcomes of individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions across the lifespan.