Amy M. Boddy
Arizona State University
Amy M. Boddy
Assistant Research Professor at the Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Wayne State University - School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan.
My research focuses broadly on evolutionary applications to human health and disease. My work is motivated by fundamental questions in life history theory. I use a combination of genomics, computational biology and evolutionary theory to help understand trade-offs between survival and reproduction across different levels of biological organization, from molecules to organisms and everything in between.
An evolutionary perspective on maternal health and disease
Previous literature paints a paradoxical picture on fetal cell’s influence on the maternal body. Our recent review on fetal microchimerism and maternal health/disease proposes numerous predictions on why we see this paradoxical effect. Through an evolutionary lens, the ecological context (each mothers body) is important for determining whether fetal cells may contribute to maternal health or disease. Drawing from this theory, we can now design more informed hypothesis driven experiments to explicitly test functional, regulatory and genetic dynamics of maternal-fetal interactions.
Trade-offs between cellular proliferation and survival in cancer progression and treatment
Can organismal life history theory can be applied at the cellular level? Are there distinct cellular populations that invest in proliferation, at the expense of survival? I am using life history theory, agent-based modeling and genomic techniques to 1) help understand why we see this diversity of phenotypes in cancer, 2) provide a new perspective in treatment design and 3) understand the molecular processes underpinning cellular trade-offs.
Trade-offs in cancer defense
Exploring the diversity in cancer susceptibility
Cancer suppression is a major component of somatic maintenance, including DNA repair, cell cycle control and immune function. There is likely trade-offs between growth, reproduction and cancer defenses. My research aims to 1) understand the trade-offs between reproduction and cancer defenses and 2) uncover the molecular drivers facilitating this diversity in cancer susceptibility.
Molecular Evolution and Transcriptomics
Using comparative genomics to examine patterns of parallel evolution
Brain expansion is a key characteristic of primate and human evolution. Uncovering the molecular basis of human brain evolution may identify ways in which our own species is unique. Whether adaptations governing brain expansion are shared across primates or have a species-specific origin is unclear. To provide insight into pathways and processes important in brain size evolution, we are analyzing patterns of molecular evolution across independent episodes of brain size increase during anthropoid primate evolution.