Hala Nicolas, PhD
- INSTRUCTOR | Psychiatry
Dr. Harony-Nicolas is an Instructor at the Department of Psychiatry and a member of the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She received her PhD in Molecular Biology at the Technion Institute of Israel in 2008 and completed a first post-doctoral training in the Laboratory of Neurobiology of Social Behavior at the University of Haifa, Israel. In 2011 she joined Dr. Joseph Buxbaum’s Laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and was promoted to the position of Instructor at the Department of Psychiatry in 2014. Her research aims to understand the mechanisms by which autism spectrum disorder (ASD)-associated mutations lead to the manifestation of behavioral deficits, aiming to identify potential targets for therapeutic treatments.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Phelan McDermid Syndrome (PMS), ASD and PMS animal models, Transgenic rats, Knockout mice, Molecular Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, Oxytocin, RNA sequencing, Epigenetics
BSc, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
MA, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
PhD, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Dr. Harony-Nicolas’s research aims to understand the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using animal models for the disorder, with a long-term goal of revealing potential targets for therapeutic treatments. For this purpose, she is using transgenic ASD rat models and applying behavioral and molecular neuroscience approaches. Dr. Harony-Nicolas recent focus was on characterizing and validating a novel genetically modified rat model for ASD, the Shank3-deficient rats, and demonstrating that the pro-social peptide oxytocin ameliorates behavioral and physiological deficits in this model. In one of her current projects, she is focusing on studying the effect of ASD-associated mutations on the integrity of the oxytocin system, and on assessing the potential of oxytocin treatment, using diverse delivery approaches, to compensate for behavioral deficits and brain activity changes in ASD rat models. In an additional project, she is using genome wide transcriptional analysis (RNAseq technology) to profile expression signatures in the Shank3 and other ASD rat models, aiming to reveal the brain networks disrupted in different ASD monogenic forms, which could be potentially targeted for therapeutic treatments.
Harony-Nicolas H, De Rubeis S, Kolevzon A, Buxbaum JD. Phelan McDermid Syndrome: From Genetic Discoveries to Animal Models and Treatment. Journal of child neurology 2015 Dec; 30(14).
Hsiao K, Nicolas-Harony H, Buxbaum JD, Buzdagi-Gunal O, Benson DL. Cyfip1 regulates presynaptic function during development via WAVE1. The Journal of Neuroscience 2015;.