The Vollum Institute congratulates Alejandra Fernandez, postdoctoral fellow in Kevin Wright’s lab, who received a K01 Postdoctoral Career Development Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for her project “The role of Pten on primary sensory neuron development”.
The main objective of Fernandez' research is to understand the contribution of the peripheral nervous system to sensory processing and the consequences of altered development of sensory circuitry. She will focus on the role of PTEN, an established autism spectrum disorders (ASD) susceptibility gene, during primary sensory neuron development. Altered sensory processing is a common feature of ASD, and PTEN is a regulator of key developmental pathways of somatosensory neurons. Therefore, the goal is to establish the relationship between PTEN-dependent cellular defects in the developing peripheral nervous system and altered circuit organization and function, thus offering fundamental insight into the mechanisms underlying a key clinical feature of ASD.
K01 grants are awarded to outstanding, mentored postdoctoral researchers — providing support to design a potentially impactful research project along with a comprehensive career development plan. By the end of the award period, the postdoctoral scholar should have a well-developed project that enables them to launch a successful independent research program.