Summer Thyme 2Assistant Professor

Research Areas
Uncovering Mechanisms of Neuropsychiatric Disease Using Zebrafish




My long-term research goals are to uncover the molecular basis of complex neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases and eventually create therapies. I have a broad background in biochemistry, molecular biology, and neurobiology. To gain a fundamental understanding of protein structure and function and the skills to engineer therapeutics, I joined David Baker’s protein modeling lab for my graduate studies (2006-2012). I fused computational and experimental approaches to redesign biomolecular interactions, mastering a wide range of techniques including enzymology, directed protein evolution, multiple coding languages, and high-throughput computing.

As a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Research Fellow and K99 recipient in Dr. Alexander Schier’s lab (2012-2019), I established expertise with zebrafish and laid the groundwork for my proposed research on the pathways regulated by genes associated with psychiatric disorders. Zebrafish is an ideal model vertebrate for large-scale genetic and neurodevelopmental studies, as well as high-throughput drug screens. I generated over a hundred zebrafish mutants for schizophrenia-associated genes and assessed their brain activity, brain structure, and behavior. In preparing for this screen, I optimized the efficiency of Cas9-mediated mutagenesis in zebrafish, uncovered rules for Cas9 gRNA design, and made an unexpected discovery about embryonic DNA repair. From the study of over a hundred mutants, I uncovered shared phenotypes and phenotypes that relate to patient physiology, including altered forebrain development and decreased prepulse inhibition. These findings highlighted the most likely candidates in multi-gene loci and prioritized genes for further study. This screen provided the foundation for my independent lab, as I will now decipher the detailed molecular and developmental functions of the most interesting candidates.


Graduate School
Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry, University of Washington 2012

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Harvard University