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:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Dr. ... New York, has recently begun offering three new minimally invasive procedures to patients ... procedures and reducing downtime, Dr. Rubinstein is excited to bring microneedling, microneedling facials, ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... The Aesthetic Channel has recently highlighted Dr. ... come up with a proprietary technique that he calls the AuraLyft Facelift. ... For all ages, patients can expect to look refreshed, rejuvenated, and revitalized. , ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... MD Now Urgent Care opened its ... facility overall and marks the urgent care center's eighth location in Miami-Dade county. , ... Falls shopping mall. The new clinic offers a wide array of services ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Ulster University, Magee Campus in ... 9 am to 3 pm to present to graduate students exciting new and innovative ... original curriculum project led by The Health Improvement Service of the Western Health & ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Radabaugh & Associates, ... families and business owners in North Central West Virginia, is embarking on a ... differently abled residents in the region. , The Stepping Stones organization offers a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/1/2017)... BELL, Pa. , June 1, 2017 ... (PRN) and Veterinarian Recommended Solutions (VRS), and KD Pharma ... investment in Nutriceutical Holdings by KD Pharma Group. KD ... Holdings with the option to acquire the entire company. ... partner in KD. They are committed to growing the ...
(Date:5/30/2017)... 2017 Therapix Biosciences Ltd. (Nasdaq: TRPX), ... the development of cannabinoid-based drugs, today announced that ... at three upcoming scientific and investor conferences in ... Invitational: ...                     Wednesday, June ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... May 25, 2017  In response to the opioid ... Direct Relief is working with Pfizer to make up ... no cost to community health centers, free and charitable ... "Pfizer has a long-standing commitment to ... ensuring patient safety through educational activities," said Caroline ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: