Two New Clinician-Scientists Chosen for Neurofibromatosis Award, Research Support

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Two New Clinician-Scientists Chosen for Neurofibromatosis Award, Research Support

Author: Cathy Gara. July 2018–The Neurofibromatosis Therapeutic Acceleration Program (NTAP) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is proud to announce that Dr. Shruti Garg, of the University of Manchester, and Dr. Ina Ly, of Massachusetts General Hospital, have been selected as the 2018 recipients of the Francis S. Collins Scholars Award in Neurofibromatosis Clinical and Translational Research. The Collins Scholars program was established in 2014 with the purpose of creating a community of exceptionally well-trained clinician-scientists committed to the research and clinical care of patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). As the next generation of leaders in this area, the Collins Scholars are selected for their potential to inspire and train others and drive the discovery of cures for NF1 and its many manifestations.

To support these goals, NTAP provides Collins Scholars with full salary support for two to three years, plus generous contributions towards the costs of research, coursework, conference travel and mentorship. The program also provides a curriculum focused on translational science, a research community that offers hands-on support, and the opportunity to participate in collaborative translational research programs with government, academic and industry partners. Scholars must be completing their postdoctoral training or be early career faculty. They are chosen based on their professional history, career development plan, research project, mentorship plan and demonstrated excellence to date. NTAP works to identify scholars who bring a unique skill set and diversity of experience. Drs. Garg and Ly join a prestigious group of seven other Collins Scholars from previous years.

To apply or learn more about the Francis S. Collins Scholar Program, click here.

Meet the 2018 Scholars:

Shruti Garg, M.D., Ph.D., is a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Mumbai, India. After finishing medical school there, she moved to the U.K. to complete her training at Oxford University and the University of Manchester. She now splits her time researching and seeing patients at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. After learning about NF1 during her residency in 2008, she noticed a lack of understanding about its deep psychological, social and cognitive effects. “Much of the real-life impact of NF1 on children and families comes from learning and behavioral difficulties that aren’t well studied,” she says. “For example, many kids with NF have autism, too.” With this award, Garg plans on studying working memory in children with NF1. (Working memory helps us pay attention, follow instructions, reason through things and make decisions.) She will use imaging to monitor levels of the brain chemical GABA, which is related to working memory. She already has preliminary data suggesting that GABA levels improve with transcranial direct stimulation to the frontal area of the brain. She is honored to be the first non-U.S. resident and the first cognitive researcher to be inducted as a FCS.

Ina Ly, M.D., grew up in Cologne, Germany, and attended King’s College London for medical school before coming to the U.S. for a postdoctoral research fellowship in neuro-oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston, in 2010. After completing her residency in neurology at the University of Washington, Seattle, she returned to MGH and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in 2015 for her clinical fellowship. Her current research involves the use of advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques, such as diffusion, perfusion and spectroscopy imaging, to study the biology of nervous system tumors. Through her clinical exposure to NF1 patients, she developed a strong interest in peripheral nerve sheath tumors (PNST), which can become malignant and contribute to significant patient morbidity and mortality. Her goal is to apply her knowledge of advanced MRI to identify imaging features that predict tumor growth and malignant transformation in PNSTs. She is grateful to NTAP and the NF1 community for supporting her research in order to advance our understanding of NF1 and have a positive impact for patients

About NTAP

Based at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Neurofibromatosis Therapeutic Acceleration Program (NTAP) was founded in 2012 to accelerate the discovery of therapies for NF1-associated peripheral tumors. NTAP supports initiatives that serve its mission of focusing on therapeutics, fostering collaboration, promoting the open and timely sharing of results, and streamlining the research process. Following these guiding principles, NTAP has enabled the generation of tangible results ranging from early discovery efforts to clinical trials for plexiform neurofibroma and cutaneous neurofibroma, which are actively changing the field of NF1 research. For more information, go to: http://www.n-tap.org

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