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UC Davis Researcher Awarded $4M to Lead Research into Craniosynostosis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded a University of California, Davis researcher $4 million to head a team studying craniosynostosis, the university said on Tuesday. 

Simeon Boyd, a professor of genetics and pediatrics at UC Davis will lead the team of researchers from more than 10 US centers and seven international sites, which was awarded the funding for a five-year period by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. 

Boyd said in a statement that the goal of the project is not only to identify the genetic causes of craniosynostosis but to identify biomarkers that may facilitate the early detection of the condition, which could enable non-surgical therapeutic intervention in utero in the future. He noted that craniosynostosis may have neurodevelopmental consequences, and about half of patients with the condition have learning disabilities.  

In 2012, Boyd and his colleagues published a study in Nature Genetics that found two areas in the human genome associated with a form of craniosynostosis called sagittal craniosynostosis. While it had been suspected that the condition has a genetic basis, the genes associated with it had not been previously identified.

Identifying the genetic underpinnings of craniosynostosis is a first step toward preventing the condition and treating it, Boyd said. 

Joining him in the research are Jon Bernstein from Stanford University; Michael Cunningham from the University of Washington; John Graham from Cedars-Sinai; Virginia Kimonis from UC Irvine; Ophir Klein from UC San Francisco; Pedro Sanchez-Lara from Children's Hospital Los Angeles; Joan Richtsmeier from Pennsylvania State University; Paul Romitti from the University of Iowa; and Joan Stoler from Boston Children's Hospital. 

International collaborators on the research include Andrew Wilkie of Oxford University, UK; Wanda Lattanzi of Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart), Italy; Tony Roscioli of the University of Sydney, Australia; Emil Simeonov and Radka Kaneva of Medical University, Sofia Bulgaria; Bernd Wollnik of the University of Cologne, Germany; Eva Olah of the University of Debrecen, Hungary; and Maria Rita Passos-Bueno of the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil. 

All the researchers are members of the International Craniosynostosis Consortium.