UNC Researchers Awarded Prestigious Grant for Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

September 13, 2011

From left to right, Drs. Bryan Roth, Mark Zylka, and Ben Philpot have been awarded a $1,050,000 grant from the Simons Foundation to identify drug-like compounds for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The three-year grant includes work with an animal model of Angelman syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by inactivation of the Ube3a gene. Most cases of autism spectrum disorder are caused by defects in multiple genes, making the disorder particularly difficult to treat. In contrast, the loss of a single gene, UBE3A, causes a severe intellectual disability, Angelman syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Some forms of autism may also be caused by chromosomal duplications involving UBE3A.

Drs. Philpot, Zylka, and Roth are affiliated with the Carolina Institute on Developmental Disabilities, UNC Neuroscience Center, the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology (Philpot, Zylka) and the Department of Pharmacology (Roth).