California State University, Sacramento Sacramento State Leader

Professor and students seek biological keys to mental illness

Kim Mulligan and Student Kim Mulligan is a professor with a passion – to explore and teach the biological underpinnings of brain issues such as autism, bipolar disorder, and Fragile X syndrome.

Forged by the mental illness and ultimate suicide of a college roommate, Mulligan’s sense of mission has led to many research projects, including her laboratory’s use of the common fruit fly to study how genes and environmental factors may join to cause neurodevelopmental disorders. The work recently earned student Lillian Murphy (pictured with Mulligan) a prestigious CSU award for biotechnology research.

“The big picture is to help inform preventive measures for these disorders,” Mulligan says. Such measures could include identifying products containing chemicals that might cause neurological damage to developing fetuses. For a scientist, “that’s about as important as it gets.”
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