Congratulations to both Kayla and GR1-to-be, Mara, who were both awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships!
Kayla’s proposal aims to look at how the genes deleted in Williams Syndrome (more on WS below) may in turn regulate oxytocin gene expression. One mechanism thought to underlie the hypersocial behavior seen in Williams is an excess of oxytocin, which is a hormone related to social bonding.
Mara’s work extends from her summer research with us on mouse models, also on Williams Syndrome.
Williams Syndrome results from one of two copies of a ~25-gene region missing from the patient’s genome. Patients tend to be pathologically hypersocial, making this disease interesting to mechanistically contrast with autism spectrum disorders, where social non-engagement is a hallmark symptom.