BU professor awarded NIH grant to study Down syndrome

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Tarik F. Haydar, PhD, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has been awarded a two-year Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Funds from the $453,750 grant will be used to develop human stem cell-derived cultures to study a developmental abnormality in the formation and/or maintenance of white matter in the brain of people with Down syndrome. Pilot funds for this research were awarded by the BU Clinical & Translational Science Institute and an administrative supplement from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Haydar received his doctorate degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine focusing on brain development in Down syndrome with Bruce Krueger, PhD. He completed postdoctoral studies at Yale University with Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD, examining control of forebrain neural precursor development. He then started his own independent laboratory at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, in 2002.

Haydar joined BUSM in 2010 where he studies mammalian brain development using state-of-the-art molecular and surgical techniques. Using in utero electroporation (an electrical pulse to create temporary pores in cell membranes), in vivo genetic fate mapping (to study the embryonic origin) and gene expression profiling, his goal is to understand how the multiple populations of neural stem cells and progenitor cells in the embryonic brain generate the cerebral cortex. In addition, Haydar is using similar approaches to characterize brain development and function in Down syndrome using experimental models and human samples.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features.

The R21 grant mechanism is intended to encourage exploratory/developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development.


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