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ASF Announces Research Fellowship Recipient

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ASF Announces Research Fellowship Recipient

The Angelman Syndrome Foundation’s dedication to research is again today front and center for the Foundation with today’s announcement of the first Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Ian King, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is the first recipient of this prestigious two-year fellowship award.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the first recipient of the Wagstaff postdoctoral fellowship and I am extremely grateful to the ASF for this award - it will be a huge boost to our research toward a potential new pharmaceutical treatment for the root cause of AS. Research funds are always scarce, and this generous award puts my work on solid footing for an extended time. It's really exciting to be involved with a project that has the potential to pioneer a new approach to treating AS, and I'm really pleased that the ASF finds the work we're doing as exciting and promising as we do” said Dr. Ian King, 2011 Wagstaff Fellowship recipient.

About the award
This is an award funded by the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF). The Dr. Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship Award is a two-year fellowship awarded for studies in preclinical, translational and clinical research areas that investigate all aspects of Angelman syndrome. The purpose of this award is to:

  • Promote Angelman syndrome-related research in a young investigator
  • Support novel or innovative research initiatives
  • Further support and encourage existing Angelman-related research projects

All post-doctoral research applications considered for funding by the ASF are reviewed by the ASF Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). This committee is comprised of researchers, physicians and other professionals from both academia and industry who have expert knowledge on Angelman syndrome. Funding is $55,000 for each of the two years, for a total funding amount of $110,000.

“Awarding this first fellowship is an important milestone in ASF’s research funding because the Wagstaff award enables young, talented investigators to work more closely within the sphere of the Angelman community. The Wagstaff award now expands ASF’s research funding to include young as well as established researchers, and new treatment successes for those with Angelman syndrome depends on the work of these committed scientists” said Dr. Charles Williams, ASF SAC Chair.

Dr. King’s fellowship work at UNC-Chapel Hill will be overseen by his mentor, Dr. Mark Zylka, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology. “Through almost daily conversations with Dr. Ben Philpot, a current ASF grant award recipient, I learned about Angelman syndrome and the acute need for treatments for this lifelong genetic disorder. These informal discussions lead to a highly productive scientific collaboration with Dr. Philpot and Dr. Bryan Roth (who is also at UNC). Our collaborative work at UNC has blossomed with the discovery of a small molecule (UNCilencer1) that epigenetically regulates expression of Ube3a in cultured cells and in animals. I feel deeply honored to have the spotlight of the ASF shine on our lab with the awarding of the first Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship to Dr. Ian King. With this fellowship support, Ian can continue and accelerate his groundbreaking research on a new small molecule that potently regulates expression of Ube3a in neurons.”

About Dr. Joseph E. Wagstaff
Dr. Joseph E. Wagstaff was a consummate pediatrician, medical geneticist and researcher. As much as anyone in the world, he advanced the scientific understanding of the Angelman syndrome (AS). He also diagnosed and treated scores of children and adults with AS and selflessly gave of his time to provide much needed counsel to their families. Dr. Wagstaff was also an invaluable contributor to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF) and his work on the Scientific Advisory Committee was instrumental in soliciting and evaluating the high caliber of scientific proposals that ASF and ATRI are proud to fund.
Dr. Wagstaff dedicated his life to the benefit and compassionate care of his patients and support of their families. Through the Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant, ASF seeks to honor Dr. Wagstaff’s legacy by supporting clinical and basic science research on the Angelman syndrome.

The Joseph E. Wagstaff postdoctoral Fellowship has been fully funded through the generosity of the Schiller Family Foundation. “We see the Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship as a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to a man whose devotion and commitment to individuals with Angelman syndrome and their families is simply unparalleled”, commented Robert Schiller, President, Schiller Family Foundation. Both Robert and Deborah Schiller felt strongly that the fellowship offers a ground-breaking and new approach that will help the Angelman Syndrome Foundation attract the very best young researchers to the field of AS study. “We value the work being conducted by scientists and believe that by investing in them, we are investing in a future where a cure for Angelman syndrome will be discovered. The Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship offers the perfect vehicle for us to achieve this bold vision,” said Deborah Schiller, Vice President, Schiller Family Foundation.

About ASF and ASF-Funded Research
Established in 1992, the ASF strives to improve the lives of those with Angelman syndrome and their families through education, information, support and advocacy and by generously supporting research on the clinical and basic science aspects of the Angelman syndrome. The ASF has, to date, funded 59 research projects totaling over $3.6 million. In January, 2011, the ASF announced a $1M call for research proposals, in addition to the Dr. Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship. The ASF is a long-time participant in the NIH-sponsored Rare Disease Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) and is currently supporting two RDCRN training grants at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. For more information about the ASF, please visit us at www.angelman.org/about/.


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