September 27, 2005

Contact: Luke Frank, Senior Public Affairs Representative,272-3679

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE , NM A $50,000 research grant aimed at accelerating the development of treatments and cures for Rett syndrome was recently awarded to Xinyu Zhao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in UNM's Department of Neurosciences.

Rett Syndrome is a devastating neurological disorder diagnosed almost exclusively in females. Dr. Zhao's project will examine the precise role that protein MeCP2 plays both in the development of new neurons and in the maintenance of mature structures necessary for nerve cells.

"We are pleased to receive this grant, which will enable us to continue our pursuit of understanding the mysteries of Rett syndrome and ultimately its treatment and cure," Zhao says.

"Understanding the specific impact of MeCP2 mutations at different developmental stages, from birth through old age, can have enormous impact, directing the development of clinical approaches," offers Lisa Forman, director of the International Rett Syndrome Association.

Scientists who study the gene and its protein involved in Rett syndrome are convinced that understanding Rett syndrome will unlock answers to many other neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, for which genetic components are suspected but not yet identified.

UNM's Department of Neurosciences is an academic unit in the School of Medicine dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the nervous system, and to the comprehensive education and training of students in the neurosciences. Department faculty conduct laboratory investigations in fundamental areas of neuroscience, as well as basic and translational research on neurodevelopmental disorders, stroke, addiction, schizophrenia, and cognitive dysfunction. For more information on UNM Health Sciences Center 's Department of Neurosciences, please visitwww.unm.edu/~neurohsc.


Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322