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Tietze Young Scientist Awards for Two ISCRM Faculty Members

By February 6, 2019No Comments

Two ISCRM faculty members, Dr. Smita Yadav, Assistant Professor, Pharmacology and Dr. Ronald Kwon, Associate Professor, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, have received prestigious awards from the John H. Tietze Foundation Trust that will help fuel promising research underway in their labs.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that currently affects 1 in 59 children in the United States. ASD is both clinically complex and genetically heterogeneous, manifesting in a wide range of symptoms, including social impairment, communication deficits, and repetitive behaviors.  Adding to the difficulty of studying the disorder is the lack of diseased human neuronal tissue available to researchers hoping to understand the molecular basis of ASD and, eventually, identify therapeutic targets.

The Jaconette L. Tietze Young Scientist Award will allow Dr. Smita Yadav and her lab to use human stem cells to model brain growth changes in patients with autism. By differentiating induced pluripotent, patient-derived stem cells (iPSC) into neural progenitor cells and neurons, Dr. Yadav and her team will be able to create 3D brain organoids, sophisticated tools that will help them uncover cellular and signaling abnormalities that contribute to the neuropathology of autism.

Ultimately, Dr. Yadav plans to use genome-editing techniques to identify the genetic nature of the defects in early brain development present in the iPSC tissue and to test the feasibility of repairing abnormal growth.

“I’d like to thank the Tietze family for this incredible award,” says Dr. Yadav. “Their support of our work – and of so many other young researchers – is inspiring and it will allow us to answer critical questions about a disorder impacting millions of families worldwide.”

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