Global Down Syndrome Foundation Supports CU Research

(May 2016) The Global Down Syndrome Foundation announced in March that it is providing $1 million in funding for eleven new studies at the School of Medicine’s Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, and three new clinics at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado.

“One cannot overemphasize the importance of the diversity in this research,” said Tom Blumenthal, PhD, executive director at the Crnic Institute. “The potential findings on the horizon from this research, made possible by funding from Global, may play a role in significant discoveries leading to an enhanced quality of life for those with Down syndrome that could possibly benefit the typical population as well.”

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation provides outreach and raises funds for the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus - the first and only academic home for Down syndrome research and medical care in the United States. Global funding helps to underwrite impactful basic and clinical research benefiting people with Down syndrome.

Four of the 2016 grant recipients will focus on the immune system; increasing evidence suggests that malfunction of the immune system in people with Down syndrome may be linked to their higher risk for leukemia, autoimmune disorders, and cognitive impairment.

  • Brianne Bettcher, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the School of Medicine, will investigate the correlation between biomarkers of inflammation, brain structure, and neuropsychological functioning in adults with Down syndrome with an emphasis on those with early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Steven Maier, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder, will test the impact of anti-inflammatory therapies on learning and behavior using a mouse model of Down syndrome.
  • Christopher Porter, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital Colorado, will employ advanced technology to define, with unprecedented detail, the impact of trisomy 21 on the amount and function of the many types of immune cells in the human body.
  • Kelly Sullivan, PhD, instructor of pharmacology at the School of Medicine, will focus on a specific group of proteins, known as interferons, which play potent and widespread roles in the immune system. This research will define the impact of modulating interferon activity on cells from individuals with trisomy 21.

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