On July 28, 1028, the University of Central Florida College of Medicine hosted an open house for families affected by Fragile X-associated tremor and ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) to highlight their research. Missy Zolecki, NFXF Central Region Leader, attended on behalf of NFXF families.

Katie Hancek is a student researcher working on FXTAS. Her brother has Fragile X syndrome. Before starting her research, she shadowed and discussed her project with Randi and Paul Hagerman.

The day started with her explaining FXTAS a bit, and then it was followed by several stations throughout their lab facility. Participants extracted DNA from a strawberry, learned how a western blot test is completed and analyzed, and heard about exciting nanotechnology as the potential new way to overcome the barrier of medications that won’t pass through the blood-brain barrier. They also viewed demonstrations of how a neurotransmitting impulse works and heard an explanation of the role of DNA, RNA, and the end product of proteins. The day ended with Katie explaining her research and what outcomes she is seeking.

Katie shared that she is planning to continue and attend medical school. It was such an informative day and so exciting to see someone with such passion!