Skip to main content

Grant bolsters Nakagawa’s research on autism, other brain disorders

Apr. 20, 2017, 8:36 AM

Terunaga Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, has received a two-year, $100,000 grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation to continue his studies of the molecular underpinnings of autism and other brain disorders.

Terunaga Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D.

Nakagawa is one of 40 mid-career scientists from 10 countries to receive 2017 NARSAD Independent Investigator grants from the foundation formerly known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

“This award is great recognition of the rather unique combination of technical skills that Dr. Nakagawa can apply to fundamental molecular questions about how the healthy brain works, and what might go wrong in complex neuropsychiatric disorders like autism,” said Roger Colbran, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

Among other projects, Nakagawa has been investigating the AMPA receptor, a glutamate receptor complex that plays important roles in mediating synaptic transmission and brain plasticity.

He has developed a purification method to isolate intact AMPA receptors from the brain so that he can learn how these macromolecular “machines” organize the structure and function of the synapse.

The NARSAD grant will support studies of GSG1L, a membrane protein and component of the AMPA receptor that was discovered in his laboratory in 2012, and which has been linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Deciphering the basic biology of this protein may lead to the development of novel drugs to treat ASD and other brain disorders.

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Sharon Seibert is among the more than 5,000 patients who have received a stem cell transplant at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, which has one of the best survival rates in the nation and is at the forefront of new cellular therapies.

Momentum

Sharon Seibert is among the more than 5,000 patients who have received a stem cell transplant at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, which has one of the best survival rates in the nation and is at the forefront of new cellular therapies.

The first few minutes of Charlie’s life were a blur, as a team of doctors and nurses at VUMC worked to resuscitate him and stabilize his heart rate. He was then transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Hope

The first few minutes of Charlie’s life were a blur, as a team of doctors and nurses at VUMC worked to resuscitate him and stabilize his heart rate. He was then transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Tucked away in a Vanderbilt conference room, 36 adults huddle over Lego pieces. Eleven teams have been assigned to assemble multicolored Legos using the written directions included in the packet. The result should be a Frankenstein figure.

Vanderbilt Nurse

Tucked away in a Vanderbilt conference room, 36 adults huddle over Lego pieces. Eleven teams have been assigned to assemble multicolored Legos using the written directions included in the packet. The result should be a Frankenstein figure.

Marissa Benchea has CF, and she is one of hundreds of thousands of adults not only surviving but thriving with a chronic childhood disease.

Vanderbilt Medicine

Marissa Benchea has CF, and she is one of hundreds of thousands of adults not only surviving but thriving with a chronic childhood disease.

more