Chiara Manzini, an assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was awarded a $747,000 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to research the causes of severe intellectual disability and autism.
The grant was awarded to Dr. Manzini for her project, “Intracellular Signaling in the Development of Human Cognitive Function.” The grant started to help her develop a postdoctoral career and now will further her research, which lays out the groundwork to study the treatment of autism.
The work of Dr. Manzini and her team is part of a larger national effort to better understand child health and development. She is currently developing a model of intellectual disability and autism—conditions that limit life skills such as personal care and communication. Her study examines a signaling gene known as CC2D1A, and establishes how losses of the gene correlate with cognitive disabilities.
“We are exploring the function of the gene and of the mutation that causes disease and studying the behavior in mouse models to better understand the pathogenesis of the disease,” said Dr. Manzini. “This gene regulates multiple signaling mechanisms inside the cells and we are hoping to understand these mechanisms first, to then figure out ways to modulate them to have an impact on the disease.”
For more information about Dr. Manzini’s research, visit http://1.usa.gov/13MXvGt.