September 25, 2015
1 min read

NIH awards $13 million grant for stem cell research in autism, other mental health disorders

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The NIH awarded a $13 million grant over 5 years to develop stem cell-based technologies and assays for studying autism spectrum disorder and other mental health disorders, according to a press release.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego and Salk Institute for Biological Studies will collaborate with BD Biosciences and Fluidigm Corporation to address obstacles of human induced pluripotent stem cells, as they often yield variable findings due to differences in genomic makeup of patient cells.

To do so, researchers will introduce disease-related genomic variations into a single genomic background and then replicate tools they create across different labs before considering them robust enough for public distribution.

“Reproducibility and robustness is key to scientific discoveries, being able to compare findings, to know that we’re all looking at and talking about the same data to arrive at the same conclusion,” study researcher Gene Yeo, PhD, MBA, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Institute for Genomic Medicine said in a press release. “This is a humble grant. It’s pragmatic. The idea is to build computational and molecular tools and cellular resources that are open source, accessible, give reproducible results and are fundamentally useful to stem cell scientists.”

The research project is entitled Collaboration on Preclinical Autism Cellular Assays, Biosignatures and Network Analyses, or COPACABANA.