NRI researchers receive a SFARI grant for a functional screen of autism-associated variants

We are happy to announce that Drs. Michael Wangler and Shinya Yamamoto’s project titled, “In vivo functional analysis of autism candidate genes” is among the five projects that will be funded by the Simon’s Foundation for Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).

Drs. Michael Wangler, MD and Shinya Yamamoto, DVM, PhD are Assistant Professors in the department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and faculty at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute. 

They had submitted their grant proposal in response to a request for applications (RFA) to support the development and application of medium- and high-throughput screens to test the potential role of missense variants (i.e., mutations in which a single nucleotide change results in a codon that specifies a different amino acid) in conferring autism risk.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are highly heritable but have a complex genetic architecture. Whole-genome sequencing has been used to identify many potential genetic mutations that may be responsible for ASD. However, interpreting the disease relevance of these enormous numbers of individual variants has been difficult because many of them are poorly characterized. 

Drs. Wangler and Yamamoto plan to use fruit fly model system to study a subset of 300 autism candidate genes to ascertain their involvement in disease causation and progression. They predict that using this powerful genetic system will provide much-needed information on the biological mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorder.

Read the news release by SFARI.org

Learn more about their proposal here.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

Media Contact 
Jenn Jacome