Research News

Changes in Pumilio1 levels linked to distinct neurological disorders (Feb 22, 2018)
In a collaborative study published in Cell, mutations that alter the protein levels of PUMILIO1 (PUM1) can cause a variety of neurological symptoms ranging from mild adult-onset ataxia to childhood-onset ataxia, intellectual disability, developmental delay and seizures. This is the first study to uncover a role for PUM1 in human brain function and to implicate it in two novel neurological syndromes.


Dr. Peter Hotez appointed to U.S. - Israel Binational Science Foundation Board of Governors (Feb 12, 2018)
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics, has been appointed as a representative to the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation Board of Governors. The announcement was made today by the U.S. Department of State.


One little boy's DNA brings the promise of a cure for Rett syndrome girls (Jan 30, 2018)
Dr. Huda Zoghbi's lab has found some tantalizing clues by studying the DNA of a little boy, Henry Engel, who has a mutation in MeCP2 gene. These findings could one day help researchers to develop treatment for girls suffering from Rett syndome. Learn more


Dr. Huda Zoghbi receives Lebanon's highest honor by Lebanese President General Michel Aoun (Jan 23, 2018)
Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital,Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the Ralph D. Feigin Endowed Chair and  professor at Baylor College of Medicine, was awarded Lebanon’s highest honor, the National Order of the Cedar, Knight grade, by Lebanese President General Michel Aoun.


Texas Children’s Hospital receives grant to continue developing a vaccine for Chagas disease (Jan 22, 2018)
Texas Children’s Hospital is excited to announce it received a $1.9 million grant from The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation to support Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), advancing the efforts to develop a therapeutic vaccine against Chagas disease.


Dr. Orange receives prestigious award for advancements in immunology research (Dec 14, 2017)
Dr. Jordan Orange, professor of pediatrics and chief of the section of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine, and the director of the Center for Human Immunobiology at Texas Children’s, is the recipient of the 2018 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).


Alex’s Lemonade Stand funds Phase 1 neuroblastoma trial (Dec 4, 2017)
Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor cancer in children and is challenging to treat regardless of existing therapies that are available. Dr. Andras Heczey, assistant professor of pediatrics - hematology and oncology, and Dr. Leonid Metelitsa, professor of pediatrics - oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, have received a $1.5 million grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to conduct a Phase 1, first-in-human clinical trial of a new form of immunotherapy to treat neuroblastoma using native and engineered properties of natural killer T-cells (NKTs).


Genetic mutations involved in childhood lysosomal storage disorders linked to increased risk of Parkinson's (Nov 17, 2017)
A new study by an international team of scientists led by Dr. Joshua Shulman, sheds new light on the genetic factors associated with Parkinson’s disease, a common neurodegenerative disorder.  


Charif Souki funds neurological research through $10 million gift to the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital (Nov 15, 2017)
Texas Children’s Hospital is excited to announce a $10 million commitment from Charif Souki to the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) to fund the Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D. Director’s Endowment. In honor of this gift, the NRI atrium will be named in Charif Souki’s honor and will now be called the Charif Souki Atrium.


Texas Children’s Cancer Center to offer state-of-the-art I-131 MIBG therapy (Nov 7, 2017)
As one of only a select number of pediatric hospitals in the U.S., Texas Children’s Cancer Center will now offer I-131 MIBG, a targeted nuclear medicine therapy that combines metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) with radioactive iodine (I-131) to treat patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. This is the first pediatric treatment location in Houston designed specifically for this therapy and one of only a handful in the southern U.S. For more information about MIBG therapy at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, visit the Neuroblastoma Program website.


Seizures cause memory and cognitive loss by blocking expression of a neuronal calcium sensor (Oct 30, 2017)
Dr. Jeannie Chin, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine has identified a novel mechanism that shows how recurrent seizures impair memory and cognition.


Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao named the 2017 STAT Wunderkind (Oct 16, 2017)
Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao, an instructor of pediatrics - neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and a postdoctoral researcher at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, has been named a 2017 STAT Wunderkind.


Dr. Zoghbi receives The George W. Jacoby Lectureship (Oct 9, 2017)
The American Neurological Association has awarded The George W. Jacoby Lectureship to  Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor in the departments of pediatrics, molecular and human genetics, neurology, and neuroscience at Baylor and director of the Jan and Dan DuncanNeurological Research Insitute at Texas Children'sHospital


Breakdown of brain cells’ metabolic collaboration linked to Alzheimer’s disease (Oct 1, 2017)
Researchers have discovered that impairing a critical partnership between brain cells can lead to neurodegeneration. 


Novel regulatory DNA loops found in gliomas: a promising target for future therapies (Sept, 19.2017)
Researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Deneen, investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, have identified mechanisms in which NFIA, a glial gene, is regulated during normal brain development and in brain tumors. 


New study reveals how repeated early-life seizures alter microanatomy of neurons (Aug 24, 2017)
A recent study published in eNeuro from the laboratory of Dr. John Swann, director of the Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories at Texas Children’s Hospital shows how frequent seizures alter the microanatomy of neurons in the brain and that the activity of a specific enzyme may contribute to the cognitive and behavioral deficits observed in children with epileptic encephalopathies.


Next-generation probiotics may reduce the risk of gut bacterial infections (Aug 9, 2017)
C. difficile infections are the most common cause of diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics and very difficult to eliminate. Texas Children's Drs. Jennifer Spinler and Tor Savidge in collaboration with co-author Dr. Robert A. Britton, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor and member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center have now found a way to selectively kill this bacteria using probiotics.


Ready-to-use cocktail of immune cells targeting specific viruses are safe and effective in transplant patients (Aug 8, 2017)
Transplant patients are at risk for developing potentially lethal viral infections, many of which are not easy to treat and carry significant side effects.  Researchers at the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Methodist have developed an alternative treatment in which virus-specific cells protect patients against severe, drug-resistant viral infections


Dr. Jimmy Holder awarded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (July 26, 2017)
Dr. Jimmy Holder, a clinician and investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, has been awarded the 2017 Clinical Scientist Development Award by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation


Lunatic Fringe plays a key role in renewing neurons (July 26, 2017)
In a study published in the journal Elife, Dr. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic and colleagues describe how Lunatic Fringe, a Notch ligand helps to maintain the optimal number of neurons in the brain.


Patient-inspired research links sugar metabolism to a rare genetic disorder (June 29, 2017)
A team of researchers at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital have found Zellweger syndrome or peroxisomal biogenesis disorder is linked to altered sugar metabolism and not fat metabolism, as believed earlier.


Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel receives the 2017 Michael E. DeBakey, M.D 'Excellence in Research' Award (June 6, 2017)
Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel, a researcher at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s has received a 2017 Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award, a prestigious honor given annually to Baylor College of Medicine faculty who have made the most significant published scientific contribution to clinical or basic biomedical research during the past three years.


Dr. Jordan Orange receives E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics (May 30, 2017)

Dr. Jordan Orange, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, where he serves as the Director of the Center for Human Immunobiology and the Vice Chair for Research, received the prestigious E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics from the American Pediatric Society and the Society for Pediatric Research.


Bellen Lab researcher receives the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award (May 24, 2017)

Dr. Lucy Liu, graduate student in Dr. Hugo Bellen's lab received the prestigious award for her work that showed how lipid metabolism causes neurodegeneration.


Dr. Sundeep Keswani receives the March of Dimes award (May 17, 2017)

Dr. Sundeep Keswani, surgical director of Basic Research and pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital and associate professor of surgery in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, was recently awarded a $300,000 grant over a period of three years for his project “Targeting the Extracellular Matrix: an Innovative Strategy to Improve Pulmonary Hypertension in Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia


Researchers at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute create a new web tool to expediate gene discovery (May 15, 2017)
A group of researchers led by Drs. Hugo Bellen and Zhandong Liu have created a newopen-access, user-friendly web resource, MARRVEL (Model Organism Aggregated Resource for Rare Variant ExpLoration) that will help biomedical researchers speed up their pace of scientific discovery. 


TCH/NRI physician-scientists receive prestigious research scholarships from the American Academy of Neurology (May 03, 2017)

Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao, MD PhD, medical resident of pediatric neurology and Dr. Laurie Robak, clinical instructor at the Baylor College of Medicine and researchers at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital were selected to receive prestigious scholarship grants from the American Academy of Neurology to support studies on neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases


Research paves way for improved colorectal cancer test (April 19, 2017) 
The type of bacteria in your gut may help diagnose colorectal cancer. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and other institutions have identified specific types of bacteria that seem to be abundant in individuals with colorectal cancer. 


Texas Children's to offer brand new FDA-approved treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (April 11, 2017)
Texas Children’s Hospital is among the first hospitals in the nation to offer the new FDA-approved treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) to pediatric patients. Texas Children’s inaugurated this program in February 2017 for established and newly diagnosed SMA patients.


Mutations in an early embryonic development gene may cause female infertility (Mar 27, 2017)
A team of researchers headed by Dr. Ignatia Van den Veyver, professor and at Baylor College of Medicine, director of clinical prenatal genetics and investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, have shown that mutations in an early embryonic development gene may provide some clue to unexplained female infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss. 


Mutations in ABL1, a known leukemia gene, could cause a novel developmental disorder (Mar 20, 2017)
Researchers at the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital and faculty at Baylor College of Medicine have identified a novel role for ABL1, a known tumorigenic gene, in a new developmental disorder.


Rats could a valuable addition to an autism researcher's toolkit (Mar 15, 2017)
Mice are the mainstay of autism research. However, some researchers, including Drs. Rodney Samaco and Surabi Veeraraghavan of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute and Baylor College of Medicine, argue in a lay article that rats are not merely "larger mice". 


Careful study of mouse models by Dr. Zoghbi's team has uncovered a new neurodevelopmental disorder in five patients (Mar 13, 2017)
A collaborative study spearheaded by Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor at Baylor College of Medicine and director of Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, shows that loss of Ataxin1-Capicua (ATXN1-CIC) complex causes a previously unidentified neurodevelopmental disorder in mice and humans.


Texas Children's Hospital researchers identify five new candidate genes for Parkinson disease (Feb 20, 2017)
A large collaborative study led by Dr. Joshua Shulman, Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine and investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital and Dr. Peter Heutink, professor at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, has revealed five strong candidate genes for Parkinson’s disease.


A potential therapeutic target for juvenile Batten disease (Feb 6, 2017)
Researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Marco Sardiello, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and an investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital have identified a pharmacologically actionable target for juvenile Batten disease, a rare but fatal pediatric neurodegenerative disorder. 


Maternal diet alters energy and behavior of her adult male mice offspring (Jan 19, 2017)
A team of researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Ignatia Van den Veyver, professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital found that adult male offspring of female mice that were fed chronic low-protein diet are sluggish, with increased body fat and anxiety-like behaviors even though they were on a normal diet since weaning. 


Fighting sickle cell disease with Type 2 diabetes medication (Jan 10, 2017)
Sickle cell disease and the blood disorder beta thalassemia affect more than 180,000 Americans and millions more worldwide. Both diseases can be made milder or even cured by increasing fetal hemoglobin (HbF) levels, but current treatment to ramp up HbF is limited in its effectiveness. 


Method of birth does not affect an infant's microbiome composition (Jan 23, 2017)
A new study published today by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Nature Medicine found that the microbiome of infants greatly expands between birth and 4 to 6 weeks of age. 


Researchers find that inhibitory neural networks broaden with age and experience (Jan 9, 2017)
For the first time, in a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel, associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine and principal investigator at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital, have demonstrated how inhibitory circuits form and develop in live brains. To learn more watch this video


Dr. Huda Zoghbi wins the prestigious Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (Dec 4, 2017)
Huda Zoghbi never dreamed her research into the rarest of rare brain disorders might one day lay the groundwork for promising therapeutic candidates for Alzheimer's and autism. She just wanted to help the patients she first encountered as a pediatrician-in-training in the 1980s, girls who mysteriously lost the ability to walk, speak and use their hands. 


Study reveals potential new strategy to prevent Alzheimer's disease (Oct 6, 2016)
Taking a pill that prevents the accumulation of toxic molecules in the brain might someday help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease, according to scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


A small region of the brain plays a major role in controlling appetite (See the Wall Street Journal article, Oct 3, 2016).
A seminal study published in Nature from the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel, associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine and researcher at the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, demonstrates that a subset of cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain act as critical regulators to modulate food intake and control body weight.