Diane O’Dowd, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology at UC Irvine, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, was awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). With the new grant from NINDS, O’Dowd’s lab will study genetic epilepsies associated with mutations in the SCN1A sodium channel gene. There are literally hundreds of mutations in this gene that result in human seizure disorders known as Dravet Syndrome (DS) and GEFS+. They will use two complementary model systems: fruit flies, Drososphila melanogaster, carrying specific disease causing mutations and iPSC-derived neurons from DS and GEFS+ patients with the same mutations to explore the underlying disease mechanisms. This two-pronged approach provides a novel platform for defining the cellular mechanisms contributing to seizure disorders and developing new therapies for treatment.
Dr. Ryan Schutte awarded a CIRM postdoctoral fellowship.
Dr. Schutte a postdoc in the O’Dowd lab was awarded a fellowship from the CIRM training grant to conduct functional studies of iPSC-derived neurons from patients with genetic epilepsy with febriles seizures plus (GEFS+).