Navigation Links
NIH awards Salk Institute $5.5 million grant to study Williams syndrome
Date:5/20/2011

LA JOLLA, CAA multi-institutional team headed by Ursula Bellugi, professor and director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been awarded a $5.5 million Program Project Grant by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to link social behavior to its underlying neurobiological and molecular genetic basis using Williams syndrome as a model.

"How the brain processes social information and integrates it with other forms of perception and learning is one of the major frontiers in neuroscience," says Bellugi. "Using Williams syndrome as the basis for a new approach to social neuroscience is exciting and promising, in part because its genetic basis is clearly understood, and it is associated with a very specific pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses and some puzzling paradoxes."

Williams syndrome arises from a faulty recombination event during the development of sperm or egg cells. As a result, virtually everyone with Williams syndrome has exactly the same set of genes missing (25 to 28 genes are missing from one of two copies of chromosome 7). There also are rare cases of individuals who retain one or more genes that most people with the disorder have lost.

To children with Williams syndrome, people are much more comprehensible than inanimate objects. Despite myriad health problems and generally low IQs, they are extremely gregarious, irresistibly drawn to strangers, and insist on making eye contact. The children are confounded by the visual world around them, however: asked to draw a bicycle, they will show all the parts, but strew them randomly across the page. It is this strange mix of mental peaks and valleys that Bellugi and her collaborators hope will allow them to untangle the connections between genes and social behavior.

"Understanding the mechanisms and pathways underlying the organization of human social behavior is important in a wide variety of mental disorders," says Bellugi. "By dissecting Williams syndrome, we hope to gain new insight into other neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism."

The current grant is the latest chapter in a unique and exceptionally successful scientific alliance under the umbrella of a longstanding NICHD-funded Program Project, one of the first of its kind. Led by Bellugi, a team of researchers working in such disparate fields as social cognition, stem cell biology, neuronal architecture and neuroimaging are looking to Williams syndrome to provide clues to some of the mysteries of the genetic basis of social behavior.

Participating researchers:

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Ursula Bellugi (Program Director)
Fred Gage
Terry Sejnowski

University of California, San Diego
Katerina Semendefari
Alysson Muotri
Eric Halgren

University of Utah
Julie Korenberg


'/>"/>

Contact: Kat Kearney
kkearney@salk.edu
858-453-4100 x1226
Salk Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. ACP Publications take home awards for publishing excellence
2. Yale and Rush University scientists receive Sanberg Awards from ASNTR
3. ASGE holds Crystal Awards Dinner as part of Digestive Disease Week
4. Keck Futures Initiative awards $1 million for 13 research projects
5. CIRM awards Scripps Research Institute scientists $3.5 million
6. Gates Foundation awards Ben-Gurion U. researcher grant for malaria detection using cell phones
7. K-RITH awards grants to foster teamwork among South African TB/HIV scientists
8. March of Dimes awards $250,000 prize to scientists who explained human sex chromosomes
9. Autism Speaks awards $770,000 for gastrointestinal research in autism spectrum disorders
10. Bloomberg School awards Goodermote Humanitarian Award to Dikembe Mutombo
11. NCI awards $1.7 million to cancer specialist at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... W.S. Badger Co. Inc ., the maker of certified ... as one of the best small businesses for new dads by Fatherly, the digital ... businesses providing progressive benefits to new parents on the organization’s 2016 Best Places ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... May 27, 2016 , ... An educational campaign aimed at ... stories, courtesy of awareness-driven celebrities and thought leaders. It also provides insight to ... industry leaders such as Bioness. , As patients feel increasingly concerned about ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Aimed at nurses and employees in the health care ... leaders in the nursing and health care industry. It also provides insight to the ... University. , As the nursing industry is coming out of one of the ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... , ... There are many ways to cook a hot dog, but new ... prefer their dogs straight off the grill. Of the 90 percent of Americans who ... cook a hot dog, far outpacing other cooking methods such as steaming (12 percent), ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... property (IP) to its specialty academic programs. , Answering to the increasing demand ... certificate programs in health law, and environmental and land use law. ,  , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016 MedDay, a ... announces that an oral presentation entitled "High doses of biotin ... trial" will be given by Professor Ayman Tourbah , ... Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in ... related disorders 3" will take place on Sunday, 29 May ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 ... beide primären Endpunkte und ... Überlegenheit in ‚ausgezeichneter plus guter ... Colons    ,      (Logo: ... gab heute neue positive Daten von der MORA-Studie ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... Celsion Corporation (NASDAQ: CLSN ... an update on its ongoing OVATION study, a ... the Company,s DNA-based immunotherapy, with the standard of ... advanced ovarian cancer who will undergo neoadjuvant chemotherapy ... IL-12 DNA plasmid vector formulated as a nanoparticle ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: