The Rett Syndrome Research Foundation commits $1.3 million for 2003 research awards

August 04, 2003

The Rett Syndrome Research Foundation (RSRF) has awarded $1.3 million to fund 13 cutting edge projects seeking improved understanding of this debilitating neurological disorder diagnosed almost exclusively in little girls.

Children with Rett Syndrome (RTT) appear to develop normally until 6 to 18 months of age, when they enter a period of regression, losing speech and motor skills. Most develop repetitive hand movements, irregular breathing patterns, seizures and motor control problems. RTT leaves its victims profoundly disabled, requiring maximum assistance with every aspect of daily living.

"The $1.3 million in funding announced today is a 33 percent increase over last year's funding levels and confirms our determination to fund, promote and accelerate biomedical research for the treatment and cure of RTT," said Gordy Rich, President of RSRF. "We are enormously grateful to the thousands of generous individuals who have joined in making this research possible."

Founded in late 1999, RSRF is the world's only organization committed exclusively to advancing and supporting biomedical research for RTT. To date, RSRF has committed $4.4 million to fund 43 research projects and scientific meetings. "RSRF was established to instill a palpable sense of urgency and to accelerate the discovery of treatments and a cure for RTT. By funding top quality research and providing opportunities for investigators to brainstorm and network we are confident that a cure for RTT will be found as soon as is humanly possible. The suffering of the countless children and adults battling RTT must be eased," said Monica Coenraads, VP of Research for RSRF.

The 67 proposals received this year represent a 50 percent increase over last year's response to RSRF's Request for Proposals. This year's 13 awards encompass a wide range of research fields including biochemistry, neurobiology, genetics, physiology and clinical studies. "The 2003 round of research grant applications was extremely competitive due to the high standard of proposals and to increased awareness within the scientific community of the pressing need for RTT research. RSRF can take great satisfaction in the growing interest of world-leading scientists. The new work promises to continue the recent rapid growth in our understanding of the fundamental causes of RTT," stated Adrian Bird, Ph.D., the Chairman of RSRF's Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Bird is the Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh and a Governor of the Wellcome Trust.
For more information on RSRF's research program please visit our website at . Investigators interested in joining RSRF's Email broadcast please email with name, institution, area of specialty and email address.

RSRF is pleased to award grants to the following researchers:

Bruria Ben Zeev, M.D. and Eva Gak, Ph.D., Sheba Medical Center, Israel
"Molecular diagnosis of Rett Syndrome: an alternative scheme"
Research Sponsor: Israel Rett Syndrome Center

Reiko Maki Fitzsimonds, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine
"Relationship between synaptic structure and plasticity in dendritic neuropathologies associated with Rett Syndrome"
Research Sponsor: The Farmer Family Foundation

Michael Greenberg, Ph.D., Children's Hospital Boston
"Neuronal Activity-Dependent Regulation of MeCP2"
Research Sponsor: The Massachusetts Rett Syndrome Association

Ege T. Kavalali, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
"A role for MeCP2 in synaptic function"
Research Sponsor: Ford Motor Company

Solomon L. Moshe, M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
"Clinical investigation of autonomic dysfunction in Rett children under evaluation for epilepsy"
Research Sponsor: Julian Robertson

Michael G. Rosenfeld, M.D., University of California, San Diego
"MeCP2 and CoREST Target Genes in Developing CNS"
Research Sponsor: The Coca Cola Company

Gert Jan C. Veenstra, Ph.D., Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences, The Netherlands
"MeCP2-dependent epigenetic stability"
Research Sponsor: Sheila Johnson

Christopher L. Woodcock, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"3D Conformation of Chromatin-MeCP2Complexes"
Research Sponsor: Provident Bank

Jerry Yu, Ph.D., University of Louisville
"Pulmonary Reflexes in Rett Syndrome"
Research Sponsor: Robert C. & Adele R. Schiff Foundation

Xinyu Zhao, Ph.D., University of New Mexico
Fred H. Gage, Ph.D., Salk Institute
"Function of MeCP2 in postnatal neurogenesis and neuroprogenitor cell biology"
Research Sponsor: George MacNichol, III

J. Julius Zhu, Ph.D., University of Virginia
"Aberrant synaptic AMPA-R trafficking in MECP2 knockout mice"
Research Sponsor: Drs. A. Bruce and Daphne Thomas

Shaun Cowley, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (post-doc)
Mentor: Robert N. Eisenman, Ph.D.
"Determining the role of the Co-repressor mSin3A in Mecp2 function"
Research Sponsor: Adam (Buddha) Lavey/Reading Rock, Inc.

Amit Mehta, Ph.D., Stanford University (post-doc)
Mentor: Mark Schnitzer, Ph.D.
"Minimally invasive in vivo imaging of hippocampal neurons"
The Rett Syndrome Research Foundation Fellow of The Life Science Research Foundation

Rett Syndrome Research Foundation

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