Grants totaling $1.3 million were awarded to fourteen researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Anschutz Medical Campus whose work is likely to help improve outcomes for people with Down syndrome. Grant recipients include James DeGregori, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, who uses mouse models to investigate whether the increase in leukemias associated with Down syndrome is caused by stem cell defects; Karl Pfenninger, professor of pediatrics, whose lab studies APP, a protein that is overproduced in the brains of people with Down syndrome and is known to be the major pathogenic protein in Alzheimer's disease; and Robin Dowell, assistant professor of biology, who is examining how an extra copy of chromosome 21 affects the behavior of key proteins involved in regulating gene expression. Other grants will fund research on the co-occurrence of sleep apnea, autism, and Alzheimer's disease in people with Down syndrome.
Established earlier this year by LCI executive director Tom Blumenthal and underwritten by the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the Chancellors of the Boulder and Denver campuses, and the dean of the School of Medicine, the Crnic Grand Challenge Grants program is expected to award $1 million in grants annually.
"The decision on which grants to fund was incredibly difficult because of the diverse, meaningful research proposed by the scientists," said Blumenthal. "We had initially planned to fund ten grants totaling $1 million for the first year, but we funded $1.3 million for fourteen because of the truly impactful research that was proposed and is now being funded."