Amanda Barks

Ph.D. 2020

Member of MSTP (MD/PhD) program

E-MAIL: [email protected]

PhD Thesis:

The effect of developmental iron deficiency on gene expression, TET proteins, and DNA hydroxymethylation in the rodent brain.

Current Position:

Resident in Pediatrics, University of Michigan

Undergraduate Institution and Major:

University of Michigan, B.S., Evolutionary Anthropology, 2012

Graduate Advisor:

Michael Georgieff, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Center for Neurobehavioral Development

Graduate Research:

I am interested broadly in understanding the developmental origins of health and disease. Specifically, I am studying this in the context of developmental iron deficiency (ID). When present during early life, ID negatively impacts neurodevelopment and subsequent behavioral outcomes. Importantly, early life iron repletion does not always correct the deficits associated with early life ID, and deficits can last into adulthood. I am interested in understanding the potential epigenetic mechanisms underlying these permanent neurodevelopmental deficits.

Graduate Publications:

  • Barks A, Beeson MM, Hallstrom TC, Georgieff MK, Tran PV. Developmental iron deficiency dysregulates TET activity and DNA hydroxymethylation in the rat hippocampus and cerebellum. Dev Neurosci. 2022;44(2):80-90.
  • Cusick SE, Barks A, Georgieff MK. Nutrition and brain development. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2022;53:131-165.
  • Liu SX, Barks AK, Lunos S, Gewirtz JC, Georgieff MK, Tran PV. Prenatal iron deficiency and choline supplementation interact to epigenetically regulate Jarid1b and Bdnf in the rat hippocampus into adulthood. Nutrients. 2021 Dec 17;13(12):4527. d
  • Barks AK, Liu SX, Georgieff MK, Hallstrom TC, Tran PV. Early-life iron deficiency anemia programs the hippocampal epigenomic landscape. Nutrients. 2021 Oct 28;13(11):3857.
  • Barks AK, Beeson MM, Matveeva T, Gale JJ, Rao R, Tran PV. Perinatal ischemia alters global expression of synaptosomal proteins critical for neural plasticity in the developing mouse brain. Dev Neurosci. 2019 Jun 17:1-13.
  • Barks A, Hall AM, Tran PV, Georgieff MK. Iron as a model nutrient for understanding the nutritional origins of neuropsychiatric disease. Pediatr Res. 2019;85(2):176-182.
  • Dou JF, Farooqui Z, Faulk CD, Barks AK, Jones T, Dolinoy DC, Bakulski KM. Perinatal lead (Pb) exposure and cortical neuron-specific DNA methylation in male mice. Genes (Basel). 2019;10(4):274.
  • Barks A, Fretham SJB, Georgieff MK, Tran PV. Early-life neuronal-specific iron deficiency alters the adult mouse hippocampal transcriptome. J Nutr. 2018 Oct 1;148(10):1521-1528.

Graduate Abstracts:

Oral Presentations:

  • Barks A, Georgieff MK, Tran PV. Developmental iron deficiency alters JARID1 histone demethylase expression and activity. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting. Toronto, ON, May 2018.
  • Barks A, Blohowiak SE, Kling PJ, Tran PV. Proteomic analysis of cord blood-derived exosomal proteins altered by fetal iron status. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA, May 2017.
  • Barks A, Tran PV, Georgieff MK. Adult hippocampal transcriptome is permanently altered following fetal/neonatal iron deficiency. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA, May 2017.

Poster Preentations:

  • Barks A, Tran PV, Georgieff MK. The effect of developmental neuronal iron deficiency on DNA hydroxymethylation. US DOHaD Society Annual Meeting. Detroit, MI, September 2017.

Graduate Awards:

  • Stark Award for Advanced Scholarship, Travel Grant Awardee , Summer 2019
  • Council of Graduate Students (COGS) Travel Grant Awardee, Spring 2018
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellows, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, 2017-2021

Professional Outreach:

  • State Fair University of Minnesota Brain Booth Volunteer, 2018-2019
  • Bakken Museum Discovery Days Volunteer, Minnesota Spring 2018
  • Brain Awareness Instructor, 2016-2019

Thesis Committee Members:

Yasushi Nakagawa, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience (Chair)
Michael Georgieff, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Center for Neurobehavioral Development
Lorene Lanier, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Timothy Hallstrom, M.D., Department of Pediatrics

Undergraduate or Post-Bac Research:

During my undergraduate years, I worked on a clinical research study with a Pediatric Neurologist to determine whether amplitude-integrated EEG (aEEG) monitoring had an effect on the course of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) treatment for neonates with seizures or suspected seizures. I also worked in a lab that studied the epigenetics of perinatal lead (Pb) exposure in a mouse model, where I contributed to a project designed to determine the short- and long-term epigenetic, physiologic, and metabolic changes after perinatal Pb exposure.


Michael Georgieff, M.D., Department of Pediatrics

What Got You Interested In Research?

Throughout my undergraduate years, I realized how many unknowns there still were in science and medicine, and how many interesting ways there were to find answers.