PRISMS funds $150,000 of innovative SMS research at the University of Michigan

PRISMS is honored to announce the award of $150,000 to Dr. Shigeki Iwase and Dr. Michael Sutton at The University of Michigan to support their research into the "Roles of RAI1 in Translating the Histone Methylation Code into Synaptic Plasticity."

Earlier this year, PRISMS opened up an application process to research institutions around the world to apply for funding to support a Post-Doctoral Fellowship for a research project related to SMS at $75,000 per year for two years. PRISMS received several applications, all of which were reviewed and scored by PRISMS Professional Advisory Board, taking into account the significance of the proposed research, the innovation of the proposed research, the methodologies, timeline, cost feasibility, and the opportunity the proposed research presented for future SMS research. Upon review, the workgroup was delighted to fund Dr. Iwase and Dr. Sutton's innovative project.

RAI1 mutations are responsible for two distinct neurodevelopmental disorders, Smith-Magenis and Potocki-Lupski syndromes (SMS and PTLS). Individuals with SMS and PTLS are characterized with abnormal adaptive behavior, which requires synaptic rewiring by experiences. The molecular and cellular roles of RAI1 in the brain remain unclear, which makes it difficult to design rational therapeutics for these conditions.

"With the support of this funding from PRISMS, we aim to uncover what RAI1 does in neuronal cells at molecular and cellular levels. More specifically, we will test our prediction that RAI1 "reads" specific chemical marks that are placed on chromatin, DNA-containing materials, in neurons and by doing so, RAI1 controls gene expression and rewiring of neuronal connectivity. Our hope is to pinpoint molecular and cellular roles of RAI1 thereby generating a solid ground for the future therapeutic design. Since this is an early phase, exploratory project, it would be challenging to obtain federal funding. PRISMS fund is highly instructive for our collaborative team to jump start this exciting and important project." Drs. Iwase and Sutton

This research initiative will involve the co-mentoring of a post-doctoral fellow in the Sutton and Iwase labs, which will enable this individual to become an independent scientist focused on RAI1 biology and related brain disorders.

"PRISMS could not be more proud at the opportunity to fund this research on behalf of the SMS community," says PRISMS Executive Director, Emily Fields. "Investing in this project is an investment in building future researchers with an interest in and commitment to SMS research. Additionally, we are excited about the opportunity this research presents to guide future therapeutic developments for SMS."

Updates on this research will occur on this page every 6-8 months as the team at the University of Michigan pursues this research initiative. Be sure to check back for updates!