Audrey Brumback, MD, PhD

Audrey Brumback is a physician scientist specializing in child neurology. Her research focuses on developing novel therapies for brain dysfunction based on modulation of neurophysiology. Dr. Brumback’s goal is to develop brain-circuit-based therapies for the developmental neuropsychiatric disorders she treats in her clinical practice. Brumback earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at The University of Texas at Austin. She then obtained her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Colorado under the mentorship of Kevin Staley. During this time, she helped establish the scientific basis for a novel treatment for neonatal seizures.

Brumback completed pediatric neurology residency through the Neuroscience Pathway at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Under the mentorship of Vikaas Sohal, Brumback built upon her strong medical and neurophysiology background to study and treat autism spectrum disorder. In her postdoctoral work, Brumback discovered that three mouse models of autism share a common defect in the prefrontal cortex in a particular class of neurons. Using in vivo calcium imaging, she observed that this population of neurons does not activate appropriately during social behavior in autism model mice.

She demonstrated that acute in vivo optogenetic manipulation of this population of neurons can increase or decrease the amount of time autism model mice engage in social exploration. This exciting discovery lays the groundwork for advances in therapeutic brain stimulation that can treat multiple forms of autism regardless of the underlying etiology. Current work in her laboratory is focused on functionally mapping the subcortical circuits involved in autism.

Brumback is board certified in neurology with special qualifications in child neurology. As a result of Brumback’s training, she is a nationally recognized expert in the clinical assessment and management of autism spectrum disorders and related disorders such as Rett syndrome.

Brumback joined the faculty at Dell Medical School as an assistant professor and pediatrics in 2017. She is also a member of the Department of Neuroscience at UT Austin and a member of the Center for Learning and Memory and the Institute for Neuroscience at UT Austin.

Brumback’s work is supported externally by a K08 career development award from the NINDS / NIH, and the Philip R. Dodge Young Investigator Award from the Child Neurology Society. Previously, Brumback held an NIH R25 award, an NIH K12 award, a Pilot Award for Junior Investigators in Basic and Clinical/Translational Sciences from UCSF, and the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation Scientific Research Grant from the Child Neurology Foundation. Brumback also was selected for the Autism Speaks Translational Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2013.

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