Alexis L. Franks, MD, FAAP

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Alexis Franks specializes in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, and her area of clinical focus is the care of children with neurogenetic and neurodevelopmental conditions in addition to general pediatric neurological concerns. Her research is focused on investigating underlying etiologies of neurodevelopmental conditions, specifically perinatal exposures to exogenous compounds. Her active projects include the study of prenatal exposure to the cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol and how they influence cellular metabolism and gene expression within the developing brain. She also is evaluating how perinatal exposure to glucocorticoids (e.g. used for the prevention or treatment of complications of prematurity such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia) can affect neurodevelopment, and how molecular interactions between glucocorticoid and endocannabinoid signaling pathways lead to differential outcomes.Dr. Alexis Franks specializes in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, and her area of clinical focus is the care of children with neurogenetic and neurodevelopmental conditions in addition to general pediatric neurological concerns. Her research is focused on investigating underlying etiologies of neurodevelopmental conditions, specifically perinatal exposures to exogenous compounds. Her active projects include the study of prenatal exposure to the cannabinoids delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol and how they influence cellular metabolism and gene expression within the developing brain. She also is evaluating how perinatal exposure to glucocorticoids (e.g. used for the prevention or treatment of complications of prematurity such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia) can affect neurodevelopment, and how molecular interactions between glucocorticoid and endocannabinoid signaling pathways lead to differential outcomes.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • American Academy of Neurology, 2014-Present 
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012-Present 
  • American Medical Association, 2008-Present 
  • Child Neurology Society, 2017-Present 
  • Society for Neuroscience, 2017-Present 
  • Pennsylvania Medical Society, 2018-2019 

Education & Training

  • BA, Biochemistry, The Colorado College, 2007
  • MD, University of Colorado at Denver School of Medicine, 2012
  • Residency in Pediatrics, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 2012-2014
  • Residency in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 2014-2018

Selected Publications

Stephens SH, Logel J, Barton A, Franks A, Schultz J, Short M, Dickenson J, James B, Fingerlin TE, Wagner B, Hodgkinson C, Graw S, Ross RG, Freedman R, Leonard S.  Association of the 5’ upstream regulatory region of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit gene (CHRNA7) with schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia Res. 2009 Apr;109(1-3):102-112. PubMed PMID: 19181484. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2748327.

Stephens SH, Franks A, Berger R, Palionyte M, Freedman R, Leonard S.  Multiple genes in the 15q13-q14 chromosomal region are associated with schizophrenia.  Psychiatr Genet.  2012 Feb;22(1):1-14.  PubMed PMID: 21970977. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3878876.

Toro C, Hori RT, Malicdan MCV, Tifft CJ, Goldstein A, Gahl WA, Adams DR, Harper F, Wolfe LA, Xiao J, Khan MM, Tian J, Hope KA, Reiter LT, Tremblay MG, Moss T, Franks AL, Balak C; C4RCD Research Group, LeDoux MS.  A recurrent de novo missense mutation in UBTF causes developmental neuroregression. Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Feb 15; 27(4): 691–705.  PubMed PMID: 29300972. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5886272.

Carson RA, Rudine AC, Tally SJ, Franks AL, Frahm KA, Waldman JK, Silswal N, Burale S, Phan JV, Chandran UR, Monaghan AP, DeFranco DB.  Statins impact primary embryonic mouse neural stem cell survival, cell death, and fate through distinct mechanisms. PLoS One. 2018 May 8;13(5):e0196387. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196387. PubMed PMID: 29738536. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5940229.

Jaumotte JD*, Franks AL*, Bargerstock EM, Kisanga EP, Menden HL, Ghersi A, Omar M, Wang L, Rudine A, Short KL, Silswal N, Cole TJ, Sampath V, Monaghan-Nichols AP, DeFranco DB. Ciclesonide activates glucocorticoid signaling in neonatal rat lung but does not trigger adverse effects in the cortex and cerebellum. Neurobiol Dis. 2021 Jun 11:105422. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105422. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34126164. *co-first authors

 

View MyNCBI Bibliography » 

Academic and Research Interests

  • Cannabinoid
  • Cannabidiol
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
  • Endocannabinoid
  • Prenatal Exposure
  • Perinatal Exposure

Research Grants

2K12HD052892-11A1, Functional Neurologic Consequences of In Utero Cannabinoid Exposure, K12 Career Development Award Recipient, 2018-2020

NeuroNEXT Clinical Trials Fellowship, Diffusion Tensor Imaging as a Biomarker of Infants Exposed to Prenatal Cannabidiol, 2021-2022