Find out how Jordan's research could pave the way towards exciting new treatments for epigenetic-related neurodevelopmental disorders.
Can you please tell us about your research?
I’m studying a group of neurodevelopmental disorders which result in life-long intellectual disability. The set of disorders I’m focused on have well defined genetic causes linked to faulty ‘epigenetic’ regulation. Epigenetics is a cellular process which acts on DNA to control which genes are turned on and off. Tight control of this process is incredibly important for cells to function correctly. Emerging new treatments which act on epigenetic processes have been shown to promote genes turning ‘on’ and may be highly beneficial in these disorders where epigenetics is affected.
Through my research I aim to model this group of epigenetic-related neurodevelopmental disorders using stem cell-derived human neurons to better understand the neurobiology underlying these disorders and to determine whether exciting new treatments in the epigenetic field can be effective at restoring neuronal function in our models.
The results of my work, coupled with the work from Anne Voss’ and Marnie Blewitt’s groups at WEHI will provide strong, robust evidence on the therapeutic potential of these treatments for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
How has the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Medical Research Trust supported your career and allowed you to collaborate with other researchers?
The Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Medical Research Trust has provided me the opportunity to grow and mature as a scientist, fostering my independence to lead a program of research while providing the collaborative framework with highly experienced, supportive mentors across the MCRI and WEHI to guide my career progression. For the first time in my career, I have been able to utilise my background in stem cell research and neuroscience and apply it to a clinically relevant question with real world implications which could provide the first treatments for children with intellectual disability.
Although collaboration has a strong base in research, very rarely do research groups have the opportunity to team up and have a common primary focus on a long-term research goal. Working in this unique environment has been incredibly advantageous not only for my own research, but for effectively, efficiently and rigorously testing neurodevelopmental disorder treatments across multiple human and animal models to generate a robust body of evidence to support future clinical trials where treatments are found to be efficacious.
What excites you about the future of this research?
For the first time in my career, I have been able to work on a scientific question which could have a direct impact in the clinic for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. This wouldn’t be possible without the long-term vision of this project and the highly collaborative environment of this research programme. I’m incredibly excited about how far this research has come since I began this project and as I begin to start testing the efficacy of lead compounds in our human neuron models, I’m enthusiastic to see the effects of these compounds and how they align with the animal models being tested at WEHI.
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences