Does a connection exist between the event of coronary heart illness and autism? That is a query Dr. Maria Kontaridis, Government Director and Gordon Ok. Moe Professor on the Masonic Medical Analysis Institute (MMRI), and her group have been actively investigating due to a grant from the American Coronary heart Affiliation (AHA).
Now, with the assistance of an AHA complement award, the continued undertaking will proceed to propel ahead. The grant, which promotes range and excellence in science, was awarded to Dr. Luana Nunes Santos, a postdoctoral fellow within the Kontaridis Laboratory.
I’m honored to have been awarded this grant and given the chance to proceed working in direction of my dream. As a lady in science who can also be from South America, it means lots to have this help. It’s the first test on the record to at some point changing into an unbiased scientist and have my very own lab.”
Dr Luana Nunes Santos, Postdoctoral Fellow in Kontaridis Laboratory, Masonic Medical Analysis Institute
This achievement comes on the heels of a $300,000 Transformational Challenge award from the AHA to Dr. Kontaridis in November of 2020. The complement, whose focus is to “help analysis experiences for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented racial and ethnic teams in science beneath the mentorship of present AHA awardees” (AHA), will span a interval of two years, totaling $133,480.
“This undertaking wouldn’t have been doable with out the help from the AHA. I’m immensely proud to have Dr. Santos on my group, to be her mentor and to witness her success trajectory and progress as a scientist. This grant is well-deserved, and a testomony to Dr. Santos’ abilities, dedication, and ambition,” stated Dr. Kontaridis.
The undertaking focuses on a selected mutation throughout the PTPN11 gene. Thus far, experiments have been centered round using inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), cells that may be differentiated into any tissue sort of curiosity and are derived from sufferers with autism-causing mutations.
The iPSCs have been transformed into each coronary heart muscle cells and mind organoid cells, to check the results of those novel PTPN11 mutations on coronary heart illness and mind improvement. Because of the complement, Dr. Santos may also now be capable to examine these mutations in genetic-modified mouse fashions, which is able to permit for willpower of the results of those mutations in a mammalian system, and never simply particular cells in a tissue tradition dish.
Dr. Santos’ work will focus on conducting the guts examine experiments of this undertaking. Dr. Gulahn Ercan-Sencicek, an Teacher within the Kontaridis laboratory on the MMRI, shall be specializing in the mind organoids portion of the examine. Collectively, the group hopes to establish novel mechanisms of illness and establish potential therapeutics that can be utilized to deal with sufferers with autism-associated cardiac illness.