Three research teams receive funding over next five years

NIH_Master_Logo_Vertical_2ColorThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) is making funding awards of $35 million over the next five years to support the Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X program. Investigators at these centers will seek to better understand Fragile X-associated Disorders and work toward developing effective treatments.

“The NIH Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X program has produced a number of advancements that have lead us to this exciting period in Fragile X research,” said Jeffrey Cohen NFXF director of public policy and government affairs for the National Fragile X Foundation (NFXF). “This latest grant is the product of NFXF advocates returning to Congress each year during National Fragile X Foundation Advocacy Day to ask their members to ‘sign the appropriations letter’. Congratulations to the grant recipients and to all of the Fragile X advocates who helped make this possible.”

The Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X was originally established in 2000. Past research has revealed a better understanding of the basic functions of the FMR1 gene and about the risk of transmitting FMR1 gene mutations across generations.

“We’re hopeful that continued research into Fragile X and related conditions will spur tangible benefits for many that deal with these disorders,” said Tiina Urv, PhD, chair of the NIH Fragile X Syndrome Research Coordinating Group and a program director at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Each of these centers is focused on a specific research challenge and has the promise to make a significant impact on the field in the next five years.”

In addition to NICHD, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke are contributing funding and scientific expertise.

Grants were awarded to research teams led by the following investigators:

  • Kimberly M. Huber, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
    (Grant number 1U54 HD082008-01)
    Many people with Fragile X syndrome are sensitive to sensory stimuli, especially noise. Dr. Huber’s team will study brain circuits in mouse models and people to try to determine the causes of heightened sensitivity to sound. This information may lead to more targeted therapies.
  • Joel D. Richter, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
    (Grant number 1U54 HD082013-01)
    In collaboration with Gary J. Bassell, Ph.D. (Emory University, Atlanta) and Eric Klann, Ph.D. (New York University), Dr. Richter’s research group will study three molecules that appear to play important underlying roles in Fragile X syndrome. The team will examine these molecules as possible targets for future drug development.
  • Stephen T. Warren, PhD, Emory University
    (Grant number 1U54 NS091859-01)
    Not all individuals who have FMR1 gene mutations experience the same symptoms, and researchers are still trying to find out why. Dr. Warren’s team will sequence the genomes of patients with FMR1 gene mutations to identify whether additional genes may affect an individual’s likelihood of developing certain health problems associated with FMR1 mutations. They will focus on epilepsy in boys with Fragile X syndrome and on (which tends to be seen in older men) and (which is seen only in girls and women).

Several members of the NFXF’s Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board (SCAC) are co-investigators on the NIH’s Centers for Collaborative Research grant led by Dr. Steven Warren from Emory University.

Some of the Center investigators have proposed using the  to help identify families that may be eligible for the studies on Fragile X-associated Disorders.

The FORWARD Project, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NFXF, clinicians and researchers in the FXCRC, and populated by families, will help facilitate the research team projects and provide research opportunities for the families to engage in these projects. This is a great example of your federal research dollars at work bringing different agencies together to maximize the benefits for all.

The National Fragile X Foundation wants to take this opportunity to congratulate the grant recipients and applaud the efforts to move Fragile X research forward.

Read the NIH Press Release