1.8 million Wellcome Trust funding for neurodevelopmental disorders research

A Cardiff University researcher has received £1.8 million in funding from the Wellcome Trust, aiding research to enhance the understanding and diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders - including intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

Dr Greg Ngo, Cardiff University School of Medicine, was awarded the Wellcome Trust’s Career Development Award. The award recognises and provides funding for mid-career researchers who have the potential to be international research leaders.

The funding will focus on advancing the understanding of R-loops, genetic structures that contain both DNA and RNA, and their role in genetic stability and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr Ngo, School of Medicine, said: "Neurodevelopmental disorders - including intellectual disability, epilepsy, autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia - affect around five percent of the global population. However, the cause of most neurodevelopmental disorders remains unknown, making it difficult to diagnose or mitigate. Emerging evidence suggest that genetic mutations that occur during embryo development represent one of the missing pieces in this puzzle."

Dr Ngo’s research aims to investigate the mechanism of R-loop formation and their role in the accumulation of genetic mutations that potentially lead to neurodevelopment disorders. By applying recent advances in DNA sequencing and stem cell technology, the Wellcome Trust’s Career Development Award will allow researchers to build a better picture of the genetic causes of neurodevelopmental disorders.

"I am extremely honoured to have been awarded this Fellowship, especially as I’m one of just two researchers in Wales to have received this award. The award will allow my team to foster collaboration and develop innovative research tools. Our ultimate aim is to contribute valuable insights for improving the diagnosis and mitigation of these disorders." added Dr Ngo.

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