The Young Investigator Award provides researchers working in a mentored environment the support needed to initiate unique research projects that will provide invaluable information into the cause, treatment and potential cure for SMA. The award will provide Sahin with $85,000 each year for three years, plus an allowance for tuition and research expenses.
In a novel approach, the award also provides support for Sahin's mentor, Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, director of the Division of Neuroscience at Children's Hospital Boston and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Greenberg will support Sahin's research by providing advice and guidance.
"I am grateful to the American Academy of Neurology Foundation and the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation for giving me the opportunity to contribute to spinal muscular atrophy research," said Sahin. "Through this award, I will be able to focus my efforts on understanding the cellular and molecular basis of SMA disease."
Sahin's previous training and work has focused on the molecular mechanisms of axon guidance. His research will continue to examine the hypothesis that the protein SMN (produced by the SMN1 gene) may play a role in the transport or translational regulation of ribonucleic acids (RNA) necessary for axon growth or guidance in motor neurons. To evaluate this hypothesis, he will test whether SMN is required for proper growth of motor neuron axons into their target muscles in chick embryos. He will also identify the RNAs associated with the SMN complex in axons.