$100,000 Grant Awarded

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2021

Koolen-de Vries Syndrome Foundation Awards $100,000 Grant to Post-doctoral Fellow for Further “Brain-in-a-Dish” Research

WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Koolen-de Vries Syndrome Foundation recently awarded a $100,000 post-doctoral fellowship grant award to post-doctoral fellow Dr. Brooke Latour for her work in neural development and neurodevelopmental disorders, and how it relates to Koolen-de Vries Syndrome (KdVS). The Principal Investigator for this grant was Dr. Bert de Vries, who discovered KdVS in 2006 along with Dr. David Koolen, both of Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

“We at the Foundation are thrilled to announce the awarding of this grant to Dr. Latour,” Koolen-de Vries Syndrome Foundation President Ashley Point said. “The work Dr. Latour and her supervising team continue to build upon is very promising to the KdVS community, and we couldn’t be happier that our team of researchers continues to grow. While extensive efforts have been made to better characterize the neurodevelopmental phenotype of KdVS, neurological changes observed in KdVS are not completely understood. Dr. Latour’s work will help give us a better understanding of these changes that will hopefully lead to better treatment options in the future.”

This grant will allow Latour to continue her current research into how mutations that lead to KdVS give rise to altered brain development. Using what’s called cerebral organoids (brain-in-a-dish) generated from individuals with KdVS and then CRISPR/Cas9 edited, Latour will be able to assess causational factors of neurodevelopmental disorders in the acute time frame in which they occur and ascertain how these disruptions result in changes in brain structure and neural formation. Essentially, Dr. Latour will be able to use the cerebral organoids to mimic brain development and observe how the mutations that lead to KdVS change specific neural formations in real time. Latour will perform this work in the lab of Dr. Nael Nadif Kasri at the Donders Institute in The Netherlands, along with Dr. Koolen, Dr. de Vries, Dr. Kasri, Ph.D. researcher Anouk Verboven, and Ph.D. student Katrin Linda, all of whom will be guest speakers at the 2021 Virtual KdVS Patient Advocacy Summit in July.

Dr. Latour obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and economics at Oberlin College in Ohio. With an interest in scientific research, she went on to work as a staff research assistant at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard in Boston, Mass. She went on to the University of California in Los Angeles, where she discovered her interest in developmental biology. In 2012, she moved to the Netherlands, where she received her master’s degree in biomedical science at the University of Utrecht, followed by a doctoral degree in neural development and disease in the human genetics department at the Radboud Medical Centre.

KdVS is genetic syndrome involving the 17th chromosome and is caused by a microdeletion at 17q21.31 (including the KANSL1 gene) or mutation of the KANSL1 gene. It may cause developmental delays, learning difficulties and a number of other health concerns. The prevalence is now estimated at 1 in 55,000 individuals. The Koolen-de Vries Syndrome Foundation is dedicated to educating, increasing awareness and promoting research for the support and enrichment of individuals with KdVS and their families. In collaboration with their Medical Advisory Board, the Foundation works to provide the latest KdVS research, surveys, findings and medical advances.

If you would like to learn more about the Koolen-de Vries Syndrome Foundation, please contact Ashley Point at ashley@kdvsfoundation.org.

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