Dr. Nicole Roy utilizes the zebrafish model organism to study the effects of
environmental toxins or pharmaceuticals on the developing nervous system. Zebrafish are
vertebrates, like humans, and follow the vertebrate developmental plan. Thus, discoveries
made using zebrafish are applicable to higher order vertebrates like humans. 

The questions she asks in her lab are very important to human health. It is estimated
that 17% of children under age 18 are afflicted with developmental disabilities like ADHD
and hyperactivity disorders. Recent studies of fetal cord blood have demonstrated
shockingly high levels of toxins including phthalates, PFC's and BPA. Her lab takes
a two-fold approach whether it is an ecotoxicological or pharmaceutical/drug related

The first tier of the project involves analyzing embryonic stages utilizing molecular
approaches including PCR, in situ hybridization and the use of fluorescent transgenic
reporter fish. In these approaches, they look for changes in neural synapses,
neurotransmitters and general synaptic remodeling events. The second tier of the project
is to link the molecular changes they see to later stage behavioral impairments. Using a
state of the art larval tracking apparatus that the department has recently purchased,
they are able to track and analyze larval behavior and their responses to stimuli. 

Degrees and Certifications: Post-Doctoral Fellow, 2005-2007, Duke University. Molecular
Genetics and Microbiology and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences;
Post-Doctoral Associate, 2003-2005, Phylonix Pharmaceuticals, Boston, MA; Ph.D., 2003
Pharmacology and Molecular Toxicology (concentration Developmental Neurobiology)
University of Massachusetts Medical Center; B.S., 1996, Chemistry, Assumption College 

Affiliations: Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society, Sigma Xi, Society for Developmental
Biology, Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR), Project Kaleidoscope and STEM Education
(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) member 



Neural Alterations from Lead Exposure in Zebrafish (with Sarah DeWolf, Alexius Schutt, Ashia Wright, and LaTina Steele), Biology Faculty Publications (2014)

Lead was used extensively as a gas additive and pesticide, in paints, batteries, lead shot,...



Using RNAi in C. elegans to Demonstrate Gene Knockdown Phenotypes in the Undergraduate Biology Lab Setting, Biology Faculty Publications (2013)

RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful technology used to knock down genes in basic research...



Brief Embryonic Strychnine Exposure in Zebrafish Causes Long-Term Adult Behavioral Impairment with Indications of Embyronic Synaptic Changes (with Brianna Arpie, Joseph Lugo, Elwood Linney, Edward D. Levin, and Daniel Cerutti), Biology Faculty Publications (2012)

Zebrafish provide a powerful model of the impacts of embryonic toxicant exposure on neural development...



Dynamic Glucoregulation and Mammalian-Like Responses to Metabolic and Developmental Disruption in Zebrafish (with Agata Jurczyk, Rabia Bajwa, Philipp Gut, Kathryn Lipson, Chaoxing Yang, Laurence Covassin, Waldemar J. Racki, Aldo A. Rossini, Nancy Phillips, Didier Y. R. Stainier, Dale L. Greiner, Michael A. Brehm, Rita Bortell, and Philip Diiorio), Biology Faculty Publications (2011)

Zebrafish embryos are emerging as models of glucose metabolism. However, patterns of endogenous glucose levels,...



Zebrafish as a Model for Studying Adult Effects of Challenges to the Embryonic Nervous System (with Elwood Linney), Biology Faculty Publications (2008)

Zebrafish is introduced as a model system to study environmental, chemical, and pharmaceutical challenges to...




Regulation of Zebrafish Hindbrain Development by Fibroblast Growth Factor and Retinoic Acid: A Dissertation, Biology Faculty Publications (2003)

A thesis submitted to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and the Graduate School...