Two new grants awarded to BPAN researchers in January
Two new BPAN grants were awarded in January from the University of Pennsylvania, with crucial input from the NBIA Disorders Association.
In both cases, the grants will enable researchers to build on their previous studies of BPAN, or Beta-Propeller Associated Neurodegeneration, which is fast becoming one of the most common forms of NBIA.
The money for the grants comes from last year’s Million Dollar Bike Ride held in May 2018 by the Orphan Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania. For the second year in a row, BPAN family supporters rode and managed to qualify for a matching grant of $50,000 from UPenn. Because the riders raised slightly more than the required match, one-year grants of $51,020 each were awarded for the two new BPAN studies.
Our organization writes the request for proposals, and members of our Scientific & Medical Advisory Board review grant applications. The University of Pennsylvania manages the grants, and sends us copies of the scientific reports that grant recipients provide.
|Dr. Hong Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, has received a $51,020 grant for BPAN research. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.|
One new grant will go to Dr. Hong Zhang, who received a grant from the 2017 Million Dollar Bike Ride. Zhang will be able to continue his studies into the functions of the mutated WDR45 gene, which causes BPAN. Zhang, a visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a researcher at the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing titled his newest project, “Mechanistic study of WDR45/45B and their binding partner ATG2 in the autophagy pathway of neural cells.”
What that means is Zhang will be studying the role of the protein WDR45 that’s made by the WDR45 gene that causes BPAN. He also will study WDR45B, the protein for the WDR45B gene that causes another neurodevelopmental syndrome characterized by intellectual disability, spastic quadriplegia, epilepsy and cerebral hypoplasia. Specifically, he’ll be looking at the impact these proteins have in the neural pathway for autophagy, the natural, multi-step process by which the body recycles or cleans out certain toxic materials to maintain proper functioning and stability.