Doctors performing tests in Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children lab

Mar 05, 2017 / Innovation

Molecular Genetics Team Awarded National Institutes of Health Grants

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children is world-renowned for its patient care, research and education. Over the years, our physicians and researchers have made groundbreaking discoveries that have enlightened our understanding of medical conditions to improve our patient care. In particular, the Division of Molecular Genetics has made innovative contributions to the hospital’s scoliosis research.

Carol Wise, Ph.D., Director of Molecular Genetics and Basic Science Research, has led this division of the hospital in the discovery of several genetic factors associated with idiopathic scoliosis, the most common spinal deformity in children. Since that breakthrough, Dr. Wise and her team have continued their commitment to understand this complex disease through various research efforts.

Recently, Dr. Wise and Jonathan Rios, Ph.D., also a member of Scottish Rite Hospital’s Molecular Genetics team, were awarded three NIH (National Institutes of Health) grants, totaling over $7 million to fund research in idiopathic scoliosis. Two awards were received from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The first grant will fund a program titled “Developmental Mechanisms of Human Idiopathic Scoliosis.” It will be shared with two other investigators at two other institutions, including Liliana Solnica-Krezel, Ph.D., at Washington University, and Nadav Ahituv, Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco, over a span of five years. The goal of this research is to identify genetic risk factors in idiopathic scoliosis and to define the mechanisms by which these factors predispose children to spinal deformity.

The second grant awarded to Dr. Wise will fund an international meeting that will be held at Scottish Rite Hospital in March. The “Genomic Approaches to Understanding and Treating Scoliosis” conference will bring together physicians and researchers from across the world to present and synthesize latest discoveries in scoliosis research.

The third grant was awarded to Dr. Rios from the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program. This grant funds the project “Genomics of Orthopaedic Disease (GOOD for Kids).” The project will use next-generation genomic technologies to discover genetic causes of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

These highly competitive awards provide researchers at Scottish Rite Hospital the opportunity to continue groundbreaking research that will lead to better care for the children we treat.

Carol Wise, Ph.D., and Jonathan Rios, Ph.D., are professors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW). Dr. Wise is a Professor in the McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, Pediatrics, and Orthopedic Surgery and Dr. Rios is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgery.

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